Endeavour arrives at California Science Center
After a dramatic three-day parade through city streets, Endeavour arrived at its new home at the California Science Center shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday amid cheers from thousands gathered to witness a piece of history.
"Mission 26 — Mission Accomplished," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference at Exposition Park, the shuttle rising behind him as a backdrop. The mayor was referencing the shuttle’s 25 space missions and its journey across the city.
The 85-ton orbiter pulled up next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and ground to a halt so that the mayor and others could officially mark its arrival at the park near the USC campus.
"Today everyone in the city of Los Angeles is an astronaut," said L.A. Fire Department Chief Brian Cummings at the news conference.
Police Chief Charlie Beck thanked the people of L.A. who showed up to see the shuttle, saying that in 35 years of dealing with crowds he was most impressed by Endeavour's fans.
"The best, most enthusiastic — this is the best crowd we've ever worked with," Beck said.
Kenneth E. Phillips, curator of aerospace science at the Science Center, said it would be a few hours before the shuttle is moved into its hangar nearby. The wheels on the shuttle's special transporter have to be adjusted before making the move.
The shuttle was more than 15 hours behind schedule but survived its journey without a scratch.
After enduring many delays, the shuttle reached the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Vermont Avenue near Exposition Park about 10:45 a.m. Sunday. Thousands of people poured onto the streets. Some chanted: "Science Center or bust!" "Let's go, let's go!" and "So close, so close!"
"I couldn't be happier with the result," said Jeffrey Rudolph, president of the California Science Center, as he walked in front of the massive orbiter.
Given the size of the crowds that had come out to see the shuttle the last three days, Rudolph said, the total had to be in the "seven figures."
The 85-ton shuttle was delayed several times along the last leg of its three-day, 12-mile journey as it weaved its way around a number of obstacles, sometimes its wings coming within inches of trees and utility poles.
By 8:30 a.m., Endeavour had meandered its way out of another tree-lined neighborhood and then had to navigate between a Ralph's grocery store and C&C Caribbean Market at Western Avenue.
A row of people, who started to shed their sweaters, stood on top of a fence at Red Carpet Car Wash to see over the hordes of people between them and the shuttle.
After a 4 a.m. commute from Santa Clarita, Donna Rosen, 61, saw the shuttle in the dark and got to walk alongside it for a few hours.
Seeing the orbiter was impressive but also personal for Rosen. In the early '80s, when she worked in the governor's office in Texas, Rosen got to meet shuttle astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen.
"I didn't know it was on my bucket list, but it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen," Rosen said of the experience of seeing the shuttle.
— Andrew Khouri and Marisa Gerber at Exposition Park
Photo: People take to rooftops for a glimpse of space shuttle Endeavour as it makes its way down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times