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Space shuttle Endeavour flies over Sacramento

September 21, 2012 | 10:17 am

The space shuttle Endeavour flew over Sacramento midmorning Friday before turning southwest toward San Francisco and then to Los Angeles.

At about 9:50 a.m., Endeavour flew over the Capitol grounds, and the crowd heard an engine roar. People began to holler and cheer, pointing and aiming their cameras at the sky.

It was only visible for a few seconds as it flew by, leaving people confused as Endeavour disappeared. They waited, hoping it would swing back around. Then, the roar of the engine returned, and a man screamed: "There it is!"

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

This time around, everyone on the Capitol lawn got up and chased the shuttle, running across the grass to follow its flight path, snapping photos.

Paula Villescaz, a legislative aide, snapped a photo of the shuttle on her iPhone. She said, "It's pretty cool to see a small piece of history."

Hundreds were on the Capitol grounds and the mall across the street, some sitting in folding chairs, others sprawled on blankets. In the distance, government workers lined the balconies and roof of a state office building to get a view of the shuttle.

TIMELOG: Endeavour's final journey

They were standing silently, cameras in hand, eyes fixed on the sky.  And it was a multi-generational crowd.

Maria Castellanos brought two of her children, daughter Itzel, 7, and Isaiah, 9.  She had let them skip the first part of their school day to see the shuttle’s final flight.

"I remember when I was in school and would see it launch [on TV].  I wanted them to see a glimpse of it before it settles," said Castellanos, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Sacramento. As she spoke, Itzel was snapping a photograph of her brother.

A second brother, Tony, is interested in the space program but skipped the shuttle watching because he didn’t want to miss his seventh-grade robotics class.

Nearaby, Diana Popovich, 85, explained that she had worked at a company called Aerojet in the 1960s as a secretary while attending Sacramento State College.  She recalled watching Alan Shepard lift off for his pioneering space journey.

“That was quite a day,” she said. “This is probably the last time in my lifetime I’ll see anything like this.”

PHOTOS: Space shuttle Endeavour arrives

The shuttle is now headed toward the Bay Area, where it will fly by several science museums and NASA’s Ames/Moffett Field.

From there, Endeavour will go on its last aerial victory lap, gliding over landmarks such as Malibu, the Getty Center and Disneyland. If you're stuck at work, The Times will offer a live webcast of the Endeavour's final flight on Friday morning at latimes.com.

After it lands at LAX on 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.


Space shuttle Endeavour wows spectators: ‘Marvelous!’

Endeavour: What time can I see space shuttle in L.A. sky?

Endeavour: Where can I see the space shuttle in Los Angeles?

— Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento