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Endeavour's Final Flight

Updated on October 25, 2014

One Moment in Time

There are times in our lives we remember well: certain days of significance, both good and bad. But I do not really mean times, or days - more like mere moments: a few seconds perhaps, when we are part of a happening. Emotions associated with these happenings are so intense, and the memory seared into our brain with such clarity, that we can remember even insignificant details of that day. We replay in our mind the minutes leading up to the happening, the event itself, and the fleeting and floating aftermath of the associated adrenaline rush. Like a recurrent dream we can never quite wake from, the reality sits with us, becomes part of us, and in some way, we are forever changed. Most of these events are personal to us. But sometimes, they affect the entire nation.

These events bring us together and carve out a slice of Americana which embeds itself into our culture like a tapestry trying to reshape itself. Days later, the new is old and the event slides into history, yet we stay mindful of the vulnerability and goodness of people that such things bring out. The death of a sitting President will do this (think Franklin Delano Roosevelt & John F Kennedy) or a civil rights leader slain in his prime (Martin Luther King, Jr.) as will horrific events (the explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger, or 9.11). Most of us old enough to remember any of these happenings can tell you exactly what was going on in our worlds at that precise moment. Yet, these events were tragic, and along with National Pride, their memories invoke feelings of sadness, shock, or even fear.

In the fall of 2012, NASA, in its transition to boldly go where no man has gone before, (and in the process, retire the Space Shuttle Program) created such an event on a happier vibe as it toured Space Shuttle Endeavour on piggy-back of the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Over two days, Endeavour gracefully crisscrossed Southern and Southwestern United States as she made her way from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles International Airport (She stayed parked at LAX for a few weeks to prepare for her last leg of the trip to the California Science Center). Only this was not just one moment in time, but many moments, with a direct impact on many people. The kids who got to see Endeavour flying low over their heads will certainly remember the moment just as strongly as we remember 9.11, and perhaps with even more gusto - because this was no tour of grief and sadness, but a joyous ride and a fond farewell: a stepping stone to higher ground and an incredible journey of gratitude for a job well done all along her way.

Photo: NASA


It is ironic, in a way, that Endeavour would be the one to take this long flight of fanfare, rather than one of her sister ships who were also retiring, because she was born to replace Challenger. She was the "baby shuttle" - created last, and the last to find her new home in retirement. Endeavour was created from the ashes of tragedy and her final flight was a tour of glory.

Photos: NASA

Endeavor's Flybys

  • Taking off: Cape Canaveral, Florida: Kennedy Space Center
  • Stennis Space Center, Hancock County, Mississippi
  • Marshall Space Flight Center, New Orleans
  • Johnson Space Center, Ellington Field, Houston
  • Biggs Army Airfield, El Paso, TX
  • White Sands Test Facility, New Mexico
  • State capitol - Austin, TX
  • Tucson, Arizona (special pass for former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, who was Endeavor's last commander)
  • Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA
  • State Capital, Sacramento, CA
  • San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
  • Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, near San Jose CA
  • Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Malibu
  • Santa Monica
  • Silicon Valley
  • Los Angeles

    o Griffith Observatory

    o Hollywood Hills

    o Dodger Stadium

    o NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    o Disneyland

    o Queen Mary and USS Iowa: Long Beach harbor

Bathed in xenon lights, space shuttle Endeavour moves along the crawlerway f
Bathed in xenon lights, space shuttle Endeavour moves along the crawlerway f

Endeavour's most exciting missions:

Repairs to Hubble Space Telescope

Helped build International Space Station

Carried first U.S. made piece "Unity" to Russian base module "Zarya"

=====Then carried last node of Space Station "Tranquility" 12 years later

=============Also took up a room of windows on that flight

Final Mission in 2011: Deliver & install Particle Detector, which will search the cosmos for dark matter and "other exotic phenomena"

Endeavor Facts

Debut: 1992

Flew total of 123 Million Miles

Circled Earth 4,700 times

Made 25 flights to space

Spent 299 days in space

Social Media's Endeavour Tour - Chris Voss Show

My friend was selected to be part of the social media pool who had the privilege of viewing the shuttle Endeavor close up on her final tour. He did a great job of chronicling her final journey. Highly recommend!

Endeavour's most exciting missions

photo:NASA

  • Repairs to Hubble Space Telescope
  • Helped build International Space Station

    o Carried first U.S. made piece "Unity" to Russian base module "Zarya"

    o Then carried last node of Space Station "Tranquility" 12 years later

    § Also took up a room of windows on that flight

  • Final Mission in 2011: Deliver & install Particle Detector, which will search the cosmos for dark matter and other exotic phenomena"

Endeavour over Earth's Horizon

Endeavour over Earth's Horizon
Endeavour over Earth's Horizon

Mark Kelly

Space station assembly is complete.

— Mark Kelly, four-time astronaut, commander of STS-134, the last flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, 27 May 2011

Endeavour's Last Ride - From LAX Through Downtown L.A.

Endeavor leaving LAX
Endeavor leaving LAX

October 13-15, She rides from LAS to the California Space Center. Her last Ride ever!

Parading through Los Angeles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Endeavor as she is lowered on the carrier taking her from LAXThrough Streets of L.A.Riding by Handy's Donuts ~ what a trip!Shuttle comin' through!Overpass - she takes up nearly all 10 lanes!Shuttle stop at Inglewood
Endeavor as she is lowered on the carrier taking her from LAX
Endeavor as she is lowered on the carrier taking her from LAX
Through Streets of L.A.
Through Streets of L.A.
Riding by Handy's Donuts ~ what a trip!
Riding by Handy's Donuts ~ what a trip!
Shuttle comin' through!
Shuttle comin' through!
Overpass - she takes up nearly all 10 lanes!
Overpass - she takes up nearly all 10 lanes!
Shuttle stop at Inglewood
Shuttle stop at Inglewood

Did you See Endeavour? - On her final flight, or any time?

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