The Madeleine Brand Show for November 11, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour faces difficult journey to Calif. Science Center

Space Shuttle Endeavour Retires After Its Final Mission

Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

Space Shuttle Endeavour is escorted back to a storage building following its last mission before being retired, at Kennedy Space Center, on June 01, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Endeavour, completing a 16-day mission to outfit the International Space Station, spent 299 days in space and travelled more than 122.8 million miles during its 25 flights. It launched on its first mission on May 7, 1992.

On June 1, 2011, the Space Shuttle Endeavour returned from its final mission into space. Now it's facing what could be its toughest trek yet – getting through Los Angeles. Late next year, the shuttle will travel roughly 10 miles from LAX to its new home at the California Science Center.

Over its career, the Endeavour launched 25 times, at speeds of over 17,000 miles per hour. Jennifer London, reporter on the shuttle's route for SoCal Connected, said that its last trip will be at a 1 mph crawl.

"It has to travel this crazy maze of L.A. streets, which is difficult for a car on any given day. It's going to take hours," London said.

To be transported on its belly, the shuttle will loom 5.5 stories tall, boasting a wingspan of 78 feet. Planners have kept tight-lipped about the exact route, but they will map a path around freeway overpasses, on streets both wide enough and strong enough to support the Endeavour.

"That means trees are going to have to come out, power lines, traffic signals, billboards," London said. "So they had to choose the routes really carefully."

London projected the trip to take 10 to 13 hours, equating to a huge nightmare for commuters. But the city is turning the event into a celebration, and the route will be opened up to spectators. "It's some good news in the face of everything else that's going on," London said.

The $20 million to decommission and transport the shuttle and $170 million to build the exhibit at the California Science Center will come from fundraising revenue.

KCET's "SoCal Connected" explores the space shuttle's last challenge in a new story premiering Friday at 8:30 p.m.

The Endeavour's final launch into space:


Guest:

Jennifer London reported on the shuttle's route for KCET's "SoCal Connected."


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