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Space shuttle Endeavour gives L.A. a weekend to remember

October 15, 2012 |  7:20 am

The space shuttle Endeavour rolled home into its hangar at the California Science Center on Sunday evening — late for its party but not without enormous fanfare.

Los Angeles knows how to roll out the red carpet, but Endeavour's arrival is one for the history books.

The Times' architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne likened the orbiter to a "Dodgers fan showing up in the top of the fourth inning" — noticeably late and delayed by the unpredictability of surface streets.

TIMELINE: Endeavour's trek through L.A.

Despite predictable travel woes, Hawthorne said the 85-ton shuttle's move demolished Los Angeles stereotypes. Hawthorne wrote:

In a city supposedly obsessed with the fake, more comfortable with re-created or exaggerated than authentic spectacle, people relished seeing the real shuttle — scratched, dented and otherwise beat up by millions of miles of space travel — up close.

In a city blasé about celebrity and bold-faced names, watching this huge snub-nosed object with the words "Endeavour" and "United States" stamped on its side in sleek, sans-serif black type was enough to prompt cheers, whistles, screams, shouts and even tears.

And perhaps most dramatic of all: In a city whose residents are accused of disdaining public space, the orbiter's tour led Angelenos to crowd sidewalks 10 or 12 deep as well as drawing thousands of people who live north of the 10 Freeway to boulevards south of it. It packed gas stations and strip-mall parking lots with crowds.

Ken Carrion, a project manager for Sarens Group, the heavy-lifting firm that moved Endeavour, described the project as "the most humbling and exhilarating experience in my 40 years in construction.

PHOTOS: Endeavour rolls through the streets of L.A.

"Everywhere I was, it was giving me goose bumps to see the L.A. community come together," he said.

Once the shuttle was finally parked in the hangar, workers began the laborious task of welding Endeavour into place. But not before Sarens crew and Science Center employees took a few minutes to shake hands, call family and pat one another on the back.

"I'm speechless, this is unbelievable. The last moments of its final mission have ended," said Luis Vides, 25, a Science Center employee.

All weekend, people snapped photos of the spacecraft as it rolled down the streets of Los Angeles.

Scores of people shared their photos with The Times. You can see them here. There's still time to upload your pictures. Send them on Twitter to @latimes or Instagram to @latimesphotos with the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle or upload them here — and don't forget to tell us where you are in the photos.


Endeavour's move through L.A.

A "kiss" for the shuttle Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour: 'Mission Accomplished'

— Kimi Yoshino and Joseph Serna