US space shuttle Endeavour took off Thursday morning for the second leg of its voyage into retirement in California, riding piggyback on a specially fitted Boeing 747.

The shuttle left Houston early in the morning, after spending the previous day on display at Ellington Air Field.

Endeavour left Cape Canaveral, Florida Wednesday, on the first leg of a transfer that had previously been postponed twice because of bad weather.

The jet and shuttle will conduct flyovers on Friday in California before landing in Los Angeles.

It will then spend a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar there, before being transferred to the California Space Center, where it will go on display on October 30.

Endeavour, which flew more than 185 million kilometers (115 million miles) in its two-decade career, completed its final mission last year.

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.