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Space shuttle Endeavour flyovers generate social media buzz

Space shuttle Endeavour is generating excitement Thursday as it flies from Texas to Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

People took to Twitter, Facebook and other social media (see below) as the shuttle departed Houston and made a flyover of Austin, posting their photos of the retired orbiter as it passed near local landmarks.

The shuttle left Houston shortly after 5 a.m. PDT on Thursday en route for Edwards Air Force Base, where it is expected to touch down around 12:30 p.m. after a 30-minute flyover around the base.

Riding atop a modified Boeing 747, the shuttle has already dipped low over the Texas state Capitol in Austin. It landed at El Paso's Biggs Army Airfield at 7:12 PDT for refueling, NASA officials said, and is scheduled to fly over NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico before heading to Tucson for another low pass. 

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour's final journey to L.A.

The Tucson flyover was added to the route to honor former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose husband, Mark Kelly, commanded Endeavour's final mission last year. Kelly requested the flyover, NASA confirmed.

To welcome the space shuttle to Southern California, NASA has invited 40 of its social media followers, including space enthusiasts, to the Dryden Flight Research Center on the Edwards base. The participants were randomly selected from online registrations that took place in August, according to information published by the space agency.

The group, restricted to U.S. citizens 18 and over who follow NASA on Twitter, Facebook and Google+,  will have a rare opportunity to see the landing and departure of Endeavour, officials said. They will also be given the opportunity to speak with experts, tour shuttle support vehicles and other NASA aircraft, as well as interact with members of NASA's social media team, according to the published information.

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour arrives

Portions of the so-called NASA social will be carried live on the space agency’s television station and website, according to NASA’s website.

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--Kate Mather

 
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