As NASA retires its space shuttle program, L.A. will get a piece of that history -- permanently.
The space agency announced today that the California Science Center in Exposition Park would be the home of the space shuttle Endeavor after it completes its last mission, which will commence at the end of the month.
Endeavor had its inaugural space flight in May of 1992 and ...
... flew 115 million miles, saw 25 missions (after this month's), and will have carried 139 people into orbit.
It was conceived as a replacement for the doomed Challenger, which disintegrated after launch on Jan. 28, 1986.
It will cost taxpayers $24 million to put the Endeavor on a 747 and deliver it to L.A., according to KNX 1070 Newsradio.
Competition for landing one of four retired shuttled was fierce. According to a NASA statement, the winners follow:
Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March. Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Our sister paper Houston Press says, yeah, Houston has a problem (with this decision):
Houston put on a furious last-minute push to land one of the orbiters, but the fact that it was a last-minute push probably hurt. Other, lesser-known locations (like, say, the National Museum of the United States Air Force) have been quietly but steadily working on this for a long time.
Houston may have been a little too cocky, assuming it deserved one of the prizes because -- objectively -- it does. But that's not how things work, especially when you no longer have a Texan in the White House.
Update: County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:
... Endeavour is special. It is the embodiment of American perseverance, of tenacity and of hope. The first African-American woman to travel in space, Astronaut Mae Jameson, orbited the earth in Endeavour, and in doing so, affirmed that the American Dream has no limits or bounds.
And on its final mission later this month, Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will raise the nation's spirits when, with his recovering wife by his side before liftoff, he pilots the shuttle on its last flight.
So we celebrate this announcement. Not only will the Shuttle offer outstanding educational opportunities for the entire community, it will inspire generations of children to reach for the stars.
First posted at 11:19 a.m. on Tuesday, April 12.