||09-19-2012 05:02 PM
Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Flight
The Space Shuttle Endeavour just landed at Ellington Field in Houston at 10:45 a.m. this morning. It was a sight to see. It's making it's way to it's final home in California, it should arrive there Friday. They've been making some low flyovers along it's journey so people on the ground can get a good view of it. Here are some pictures people in Houston sent in. There is a beautiful shot of it that someone took as it flew over Reliant Stadium, home to the Houston Texans, right next door to Reliant Center where Matt comes for his Texas Trophy Hunters Assoc. convention shows. :)
This article mentions it's scheduled path along it's final journey to California for any of you who happen to live in areas it will be flying over. It's scheduled to stop in El Paso to refuel so some more Texas forum peeps may be able to see it before it leaves Texas to fly over New Mexico. It's also flying over parts of Northern California for any forum members who live there. :)
Shuttle Endeavour begins final cross-country piggyback trek
The space shuttle Endeavour, atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, is seen shortly after takeoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.
By Robert Z. PearlmanEditor of CollectSpace.com
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — For the last time in history, a space shuttle soared into the skies over Florida on Wednesday. Rather than riding on rockets and heading into orbit, however, Endeavour was mounted atop a jumbo jet and is destined for display at a California museum.
The retired orbiter, mated to the space agency's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, took off from the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility, which was the same runway where Endeavour made its 25th and final return from space in June 2011. The 7:22 a.m. ET liftoff marked the start of the final ferry flight for the 30-year space shuttle program.
After taking to the air, Endeavour, riding piggyback on the SCA, embarked on a series of flyovers of Florida's Space Coast. The shuttle-jet duo flew over Kennedy and its visitor complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base before returning to the landing facility for one last low pass. It then headed west, out of the Sunshine State.
Endeavour's final departure from Florida had been delayed twice by weather. The SCA with its last shuttle passenger aboard was originally scheduled to take off on Monday, but a low pressure front and associated thunderstorms along the planned flight path forced NASA to postpone the takeoff.
In April 2011, NASA awarded Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles for permanent display. The ferry flight is scheduled to touch down at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday at about 11 a.m. PT. On the way to L.A., it is making flyovers and stopovers at NASA facilities and centers, and take scenic tours over California landmarks. [How NASA Flies Shuttles on 747 Jumbo Jets (Photos)]
The first leg on Endeavour's cross-country trip took it to Houston, the home of the space shuttle program, Mission Control and NASA's astronaut corps.
Endeavour's Ellington return
The shuttle and its carrier jet followed the I-10 traffic corridor along the Gulf Coast, at times lowering to 1,500 feet (460 meters) to perform flyovers of Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Those two sites tested the shuttle engines and built the external fuel tanks, respectively.
The SCA then moved on to the Texas Gulf Coast region and flew over a variety of landmarks in the greater Houston area, including the George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports as well as the downtown skyline and the San Jacinto Monument. The SCA with Endeavour also navigated a low flyover of NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Around 10:45 a.m. CT (11:45 a.m. ET), the SCA landed at Ellington Field in Houston and taxied to NASA Hangar 990. The public will be able to take a close look at the aircraft and Endeavour until 9 p.m. CT.
Endeavour's Ellington arrival on this, its final flight, brought this particular shuttle's history full circle. On May 9, 1991, Endeavour arrived at the same air field during a refueling stop on its very first ferry flight. Endeavour was on its way from California to Florida to be readied for its first mission, STS-49, which launched a year later.
Ellington Field is the aircraft operations base for Johnson Space Center. In addition to the SCA, Ellington supports NASA's Super Guppy cargo plane, the now-retired Shuttle Training Aircraft Gulfstream jets, and NASA's fleet of T-38 two-engine astronaut training jets.
Go west, young shuttle
Before the weather delayed its Florida departure, the SCA and Endeavour were scheduled to stay in Houston for two days. Instead, the shuttle, atop the jetliner, will leave Ellington at sunrise on Thursday.
Ellington's runway is not quite long enough to support a fully fueled, shuttle-carrying SCA for this flight, so the jumbo jet will make an additional refueling stop at Biggs Army Air Field in El Paso before continuing on its way to southern California.
On the way, the SCA will make low flyovers of the White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The shuttle-jet combo is due to land at Dryden at midday. Dryden and Edwards served as landing locations for the shuttles when they returned from space.
On the morning of Sept. 21, the SCA and Endeavour will take off for the last time and fly low passes over Northern California, passing near NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field and by various landmarks in multiple cities, including Sacramento and San Francisco. The aircraft with Endeavour will also fly over many Los Angeles landmarks before touching down at LAX.
Following a ceremony welcoming Endeavour to Los Angeles, the shuttle will be removed from the SCA and spend a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar undergoing preparations for transport and display. Endeavour will then travel through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles on a two-day, 12-mile (19-kilometer) road trip from the airport to the science center, arriving on the evening of Oct. 13.
On Oct. 30, the shuttle will make its debut in the science center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, beginning its new educational mission to commemorate past achievements in space and inspire the next generations of explorers.
A previous version of this story included an incorrect metric conversion for the SCA's altitude during flyovers in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Share your photos of the ferry flight with CollectSpace.com and Space.com! Send in your snapshots of Endeavour atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to contact@collectSPACE.com and Space.com managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.
See shuttles.collectspace.com for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.
Follow CollectSpace on Facebook and Twitter @collectSPACE, and editor Robert Pearlman @robertpearlman. Copyright 2012 CollectSpace.com. All rights reserved.