Space shuttle Endeavour out of sight; fans told to stay away
A crowd of excited space shuttle fans gathered near Los Angeles International Airport early Saturday to get one last glimpse of Endeavour before it was tucked away in a United Airlines cargo hangar.
But with the shuttle now out of sight, airport officials are asking Endeavour fans to keep away.
KCBS-TV (Channel 2) said a crowd armed with binoculars and cameras had lined up Saturday morning on Imperial Highway to watch the shuttle slowly inch its way into the hangar and eventually disappear from public view.
By Saturday evening, only the Boeing 747 aircraft that ferried the shuttle to Los Angeles remained in sight, the station said. Police officers arrived later in the day asking people to leave, KCBS-TV reported.
Hours earlier, crews spent 12 hours performing the delicate task of plucking Endeavour from the back of the Boeing 747 aircraft that transported the space shuttle to Los Angeles from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Giant cranes supporting a yellow sling raised the shuttle high enough to allow the plane to back out, while a special transporter was wheeled in. The transporter will eventually carry the 78-ton shuttle to the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
Endeavour will remain at the airport for about three weeks, and on Oct. 12, it will begin a two-day journey across the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles as it makes it way to its permanent retirement home at the science center's Samuel Oschin display pavilion.
The state-run museum plans to open the Endeavour exhibit to the public Oct. 30.
The California Science Center was only one of three museums nationwide to receive a retired space shuttle. The other winners are on the East Coast, with Atlantis staying at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Discovery delivered to a Smithsonian museum near Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.
The shuttle prototype Enterprise was delivered to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.
The two-day event will be the only time that a space shuttle will be paraded through the heart of a city.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: Crews lift Endeavour off the Boeing 747 aircraft that brought the space shuttle to California. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times