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Shuttle Endeavour approaches Los Angeles to 'electric' vibe [video]

September 21, 2012 | 11:19 am

The space shuttle Endeavour has entered Southern California and is approaching Malibu, so if you want to see it — head outside now! 

If views at the Capitol and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge were any indication, the sight of Endeavour riding aloft a Boeing 747 aircraft will be a breathtaking sight to see. By 11 a.m., crowds of office workers were standing on outdoor patios at the top of skyscrapers, waiting for the space shuttle to glide by downtown.

In San Francisco, Endeavour passed the Golden Gate Bridge twice, thrilling crowds of pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge's sidewalk. A crowd of adults and children had their cellphones and snapshot cameras aimed at the skies when Endeavour appeared as a dot, prompting screams of "Whooo!" "It was unbelievable. Did you hear all the clapping?" said Polly Lestikow, of Centennial, Colo.

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

Earlier, in Sacramento, crowds of people at the Capitol were confused when the space shuttle whizzed by for only a few seconds. The crowd began hearing the 747's engine get louder again. Then a man screamed: "There it is!" Everyone leapt to their feet and chased the shuttle as it flew for a second pass by the Capitol rotunda.

Anticipation was building throughout Southern California. Huntington Beach resident Brandon Larson loves photography and often visits the pier to shoot surfers. When he heard Endeavour was flying over his city,  he said he knew he couldn't miss it. He said he arrived at 7 a.m. to get the best spot, boasting he won't have any high-rises to mar his view.

"This only happens once in a lifetime," he said. "The space program is no more. After this, there will be no shuttles in space."

TIMELOG: Endeavour's final journey

Crowds had completely blocked off the Griffith Observatory. Overflow parking lots near the Greek Theatre were full, and officials were beginning to block off traffic there.

 "Somebody leaving their house right now shouldn't come," said Mark Pine, deputy director of the observatory. "There's nowhere for people to go."

At the United Airlines hangar at Los Angeles International Airport where Endeavour will be taxied for a welcome ceremony, donors and employees of the California Science Center, NASA and local foundations mingled while awaiting the shuttle's arrival.

INTERACTIVE: A space shuttle's final journey

Nine-year-old Julian Caldera even got to meet one of three astronauts milling about.

He was "nervous," he said, "because I was talking to an astronaut."

"Not many little kids get to do that," he said.

Astronaut Mike Fincke, who flew Endeavour's final mission last year, explained to Julian how shuttles land and where they sit.

Fincke said he was wanted to go to space as a 3-year-old, after watching astronauts walk on the moon. He's spent more than a year at the International Space Station, one of only a handful of NASA astronauts who have done so.

He said he's glad to see the shuttle being well-received in Los Angeles — "I can feel the vibe, it's just electric" — but is more excited to see how it affects children like Julian.

"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."

Did you take a picture? Tweet them to @latimes or @lanow with the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle. Don't forget to tell us where you are! Photos can also be uploaded here or emailed to latimes-2do82r@olapic.it. Check back -- we'll be compiling the best reader photos.


Space shuttle Endeavour gives these L.A. kids flights of fancy

Space shuttle Endeavour: Thousands await final pass over L.A.

Shuttle Endeavour: Picture perfect over San Francisco, Golden Gate

— Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco, Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento, Mona Shadia in Huntington Beach and Kate Mather at LAX