Space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ on final flight to museum
US space shuttle Endeavour departed Wednesday morning on its final voyage, heading cross-country from Florida to California, riding piggyback on a specially fitted Boeing 747.
The shuttle took off several minutes behind the scheduled 7:15 am (1115 GMT) departure. The transfer had previously been postponed twice because of bad weather.
Endeavour, which flew more than 185 million kilometers (115 million miles) in its two-decade career, completed its final mission last year.
The 747 transporting the shuttle was to make several flyovers in the area before heading west. It was also scheduled to fly over the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and a factory in Louisiana where some of its parts were made.
It will then spend the night at the Johnson Space Center in Houston before heading out to California early Thursday. The jet and the shuttle will conduct flyovers on Friday in California before landing in Los Angeles.
After spending a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar there, the shuttle will be transferred to the California Space Center where it will go on display on October 30.
After the space agency NASA brought an end to the 30-year shuttle program last year, major US cities battled for the right to house one of the craft.
Enterprise, the prototype that never flew into space, is now on permanent display on the runway of the aircraft carrier Intrepid in New York.
The Kennedy Space Center will keep Atlantis, and Discovery is on display at a museum outside Washington.
Two other shuttles were destroyed in flight. Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff in 1986 and Columbia broke apart on re-entry to Earth in 2003. Both disasters killed everyone on board.
Endeavour’s trip to Los Angeles is a homecoming of sorts. It was built in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles, as a replacement for Challenger.