The space shuttle Endeavour landed safely Wednesday morning in Houston's Ellington Field, where Texans can get a glimpse of the massive artifact before it embarks on its final journey to California.
Riding piggyback on a modified Boeing 747, the space shuttle arrived at 8:40 a.m. PDT after a five-hour flight from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, NASA officials said.
An extended layover in Houston was cut to one night instead of two. The threat of thunderstorms twice delayed the shuttle's original departure day of Monday. Still, NASA officials said the homecoming will go on as planned.
The cross-country farewell tour will continue early Thursday, where the shuttle is expected to make a pit stop at Biggs Army Air Field in El Paso. From there, the shuttle will head to Edwards Air Force Base in California, where it will be housed overnight.
The shuttle will depart the Mojave Desert base about 7:15 a.m. Friday and will fly low over Palmdale, Lancaster,
Rosamond and Mojave before heading north to Sacramento, NASA officials
There, Endeavour will fly over the Capitol and turn to San Francisco,
where those hoping to catch a glimpse of the shuttle are advised to
watch from one of several Bay Area museums, including the Chabot Space
and Science Center, the Exploratorium, the Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Lawrence Hall of Science. It can also be viewed from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Once the shuttle reaches the Los Angeles area about 10:30 a.m., the
orbiter will be carried over landmarks, including the Getty Center, the
Griffith Observatory, Malibu and Disneyland before landing at Los
Angeles International Airport. It will also fly over the California
Science Center in Exposition Park, its new permanent home.
But Endeavour's journey won't end Friday. The shuttle will be housed
at a United Airlines hangar until Oct. 12, when it will begin a two-day
celebratory trek through the city's streets to the museum's new Samuel
Oschin display pavilion. The exhibit will open to the public Oct. 30.
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Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour rides atop a Boeing 747, with a T-38 plane
behind it, after taking off at the Kennedy Space Center Wednesday morning
in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The shuttle is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on
Friday. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times