Space Shuttle Endeavour Rolls To Its Resting Place

NASA's space shuttle Endeavour is on its last journey. It's being towed through the streets of Los Angeles on its way to a science museum. Endeavour is expected to take two days to make the trip, providing gawkers with plenty of chances to get a glimpse.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. They're calling it Mission 26. After 25 trips in orbit, Space Shuttle Endeavour is making its final journey, this one through the streets of Los Angeles. For the next two days, the shuttle will be towed from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center in downtown L.A. where it will become a museum piece. NPR's Carrie Kahn caught up with Endeavour along its route today.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Endeavour's first stop was a bank parking lot in nearby Westchester. It's just 2 miles from L.A.'s airport, but it took a couple of hours for the 170,000-pound space shuttle to get there. Rosemarie Gunning and Maureen Taft were ready with lawn chairs and snacks.

ROSEMARIE GUNNING: What time did we get over here?

MAUREEN TAFT: Six o'clock.

GUNNING: Six o'clock. And we live in Westchester, and we figured, well, we wanted to be able to sit and enjoy and then stand when it starts moving, so we brought some breakfast and tea, and it has been great and exciting all the people.

KAHN: Ever seen anything like this before?

GUNNING: No, no. We were - our kids used to call this Westchester, Deadchester, so...

(LAUGHTER)

GUNNING: ...so this is really something special, extra, extra special.

KAHN: By midday, the crowd swelled into the hundreds despite the light rain.

CHRISTIAN DELGADO: It's amazing. It's breathtaking. It's crazy to see it up close.

KAHN: Christian Delgado did get pretty close, about 50 feet away, close enough to see Endeavour's well-worn heat-resistant tiles.

DELGADO: A little space dust for you.

KAHN: Well, you could see the dents and the bumps and everything.

DELGADO: That's travel - space travel for you. It's really amazing.

KAHN: In its 25 missions, Endeavour logged more than 123 million miles, orbited the Earth nearly 4,700 times at a speed of more than 17,000 miles an hour. Heather Lemon and dozens of other volunteers from the California Science Center were full of Endeavour facts for the curious onlookers.

HEATHER: And it saw a sunset or a sunrise every 45 minutes. Isn't that amazing?

KAHN: Well, I think what's amazing is its last trip is 2 miles an hour.

: Yeah. Exactly. Down these streets.

KAHN: Crews are still cutting trees along L.A.'s streets to make way for Endeavour. Light poles, traffic signals and street signs are being removed too. The loss of hundreds of trees has upset residents living along Endeavour's final route, but today as the five-story-tall shuttle craft rolled through town, all you heard were the oohs and ahhs. Carrie Khan, NPR News.

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