As of Tuesday, space shuttle Endeavour is officially the property of the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The retired orbiter is set to go on permanent display at the museum, located just south of downtown. To mark the occasion, crew members from Endeavour’s last mission held a ceremony at the center to formally transfer ownership of NASA's youngest space shuttle.
Over at L.A. Now, Times reporter Rong-Gong Lin II sat down and talked aerospace with three of Endeavour’s last crew members — pilot Greg "Box" Johnson, 49, and mission specialists Mike Fincke, 44, and Drew Feustel, 46 — and got their thoughts on the shuttle program, as well as the future of the space program.
Here's a sample:
Q: I want to get your views on the space shuttle selection process. Did any of you think Houston should've gotten a space shuttle?
Johnson: Of course. Trouble is, there's not enough space shuttles to go around. I know there's a lot of logic going into the thinking. We have a bunch of smart people. The space shuttle was born here in California. There's a population center here in California.
Fincke: This is a bastion of aerospace.
Check out the entire post here.
The Science Center already features some of the most impressive flying machines ever dreamed up, including Lockheed Corp.’s A-12, which was a precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, and Lockheed’s supersonic F-104 Starfighter interceptor aircraft.
"NASA is pleased to share this wonderful orbiter with the California Science Center to help inspire a new generation of explorers," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "The next chapter in space exploration begins now, and we're standing on the shoulders of the men and women of the shuttle program to reach farther into the solar system."
-- W.J. Hennigan
Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour on Feb. 9, 2010, is silhouetted against the backdrop of Earth's horizon before docking with the International Space Station. Credit: NASA