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Endeavour: Astronauts hope shuttle will inspire future generations

September 24, 2012 |  8:04 am

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

Of the folks assembled at the United Airlines hangar at Los Angeles International Airport last week to watch Endeavour's arrival, three had firsthand experience with the space shuttle.

Garrett Reisman came to LAX to watch the shuttle with the past and present on his mind. He first flew on Endeavour in 2008, when he went to space for the first time. He left NASA 18 months ago and now works at SpaceX and lives in Manhattan Beach.

"Both Endeavour and I have left NASA and moved on, but neither one of us is washed up," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
He says having a shuttle at the California Science Center will inspire future generations, but he's especially excited about the opportunity to take his one-and-a-half-year-old son to see Endeavour.
“I can take my son to see my spaceship,” he said. “That will be very cool. ... He'll grow up with Endeavour in his backyard.”
Astronaut Mike Fincke — who said Endeavour "was a beauty to fly" on its final mission last year — said he was "so proud of L.A." for its welcome of the shuttle.
"When does a city just come together for a good occasion?" he said. "I can feel the vibe. It's just electric."
Fincke wanted to be an astronaut from age 3, when he saw a moonwalk on television. After he "dragged his parents" to their local science center, he was hooked.
And like Reisman, Fincke said having Endeavour at the Science Center would encourage an interest in space.
"They're going to be inspired and they're going to be the next generation to come of doctors and engineers and scientists and astronauts," he said. "It happened for me and I know it's going to happen for all these other kids."
Astronaut Gregory Chamitoff agreed.
"It's one thing to see it on TV but it's very different to see it in person," he said. "I think when folks see it at the museum here they will get that same feeling of how magnificent it is that we can build something like this that can go to space. It's very inspiring."
On Saturday, NASA officials completed the delicate task of removing space shuttle Endeavour from the back of a modified Boeing 747 after its tour of California. The Times captured the epic effort in a time-lapse video.
The elaborate operation began late Friday night, according to NASA, as cranes gently lowered a giant 37,000-pound yellow sling that was used to lift the 78-ton shuttle from the airplane.
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.
— Kate Mather at Los Angeles International Airport
Photo: Elijah Marshall, 6, has his picture taken with Endeavour astronaut Gregory Chamitoff during festivities in the United Airlines hangar before the space shuttle arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday. Credit: Anne Cusack/ Los Angeles Times