Space shuttle Endeavour plucked off Boeing 747 at LAX
Giant cranes plucked the space shuttle Endeavour from the back of a modified Boeing 747 overnight and gingerly attached it to a special transporter that will haul the spacecraft next month to its retirement home in South Los Angeles.
According to a Times graphic reported on by Tom Reinken, Endeavour was to be lifted about 60 feet into the air while the 747 slowly backed out from under the sling. Then the transporter, which vaguely resembles the bed of a tractor-trailer, was to scoot in.
The space shuttle was lowered again as the sun rose Saturday morning.
NASA calls the device that will move Endeavour the "Over Land Transporter." The transporter can handle up to 800 tons of weight -- far more than the shuttle's 78 tons, according to The Times' graphic. Endeavour sits on a 25,000 pound frame fabricated by NASA, which lies atop a series of self-propelled transporters equipped with wheels, which a driver will control with a joystick while walking alongside the vehicle.
Endeavour will remain at Los Angeles International Airport until Oct. 12, when it begins its two-day parade across the wide boulevards of Inglewood and Los Angeles before it arrives at its new home at the California Science Center's Samuel Oschin display pavilion.
The state-run museum expects to open the pavilion to the public on Oct. 30. It will be housed in a hangar that will display the shuttle horizontally, but officials plan to build an entirely new air and space wing of the museum where the shuttle will be displayed vertically, attached to booster rockets, as if ready for launch.
Endeavour, the newest NASA shuttle that flew its first mission in 1992, was built to replace Challenger, which exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986. It was assembled in Southern California.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
Top photo: Space shuttle Endeavour is suspended as NASA's Boeing 747 transport plane backs away from the orbiter at Los Angeles International Airport early Saturday. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times
Middle photo: Crews lift Endeavour from aircraft. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Endeavour hangs around after 747 is backed out and before land transporter is wheeled in. Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA
Last photo: Endeavour is perched on transporter that will haul it on city streets to the California Science Center. Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA