Tehachapi residents may get a peek of the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it makes a flyover areas of California beginning at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21. The time of the flight is one hour later than previously announced due to weather conditions.
The orbiter, atop its 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is scheduled to fly over northern California and a large area of the Los Angeles basin. NASA, the California Science Center, and the Federal Aviation Administration delayed the start of the flight to increase the probability that fog over the San Francisco area will dissipate before the flyover.
During the four-and-a-half hour flight, social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour's vehicle designation.
Members of the public are encouraged to share their photos of the SCA and Endeavour on NASA's Flickr group at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/spaceshuttleendeavour
For official NASA images of the SCA and Endeavour, see the NASA HQ Photography Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto
At 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT), NASA Television will air the departure of Endeavour from Edwards Air Force Base as it begins its California flyover: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
The SCA and Endeavour will salute NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and the Edwards Air Force Base area after takeoff with a low flyby northbound to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Any time after 9:30 a.m. PDT, watch for Endeavour from viewing locations that include the Bay Area Discovery Museum, Chabot Space and Science Center, the California State Capitol, Exploratorium, Lawrence Hall of Science and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Next the aircraft will travel south, making a pass over NASA's Ames Research Center and Vandenberg Air Force Base before heading into the Los Angeles area.
Any time after 11:30 a.m., watch for flyovers of Endeavour passing regional landmarks such as its future home at the California Science Center, Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, Disneyland, The Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles City Hall, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Malibu Beach, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, the Queen Mary, Universal Studios and Venice Beach, among others.
Finally, the SCA and Endeavour will land about 12:45 p.m., at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for an arrival ceremony before Endeavour is taken off the 747. The orbiter will be transported to the California Science Center next month.
The exact timing and path of the ferry flight will depend on weather conditions and operational constraints. Some planned flyovers or stopovers could be delayed or canceled.
For more information about NASA's transfer of space shuttles to museums, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/transition.
In preparation for the historic California flyover, the Endeavour landed at Edwards Air Force Base shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday.
After iffy weather delayed Endeavour's departure from Florida by a day earlier in the week, the weather at Edwards was perfect for a landing, with blasting heat and bright blue sky broken up only by a light breeze and a few cirrus clouds.
Then, like an aging rockstar appearing before adoring fans, the shuttle and 747 appeared as a sparkle in the distance, escorted by a white fighter jet. It neared in relative silence as dozens of television crew members, reporters and other lucky spectators snapped photos from a dirt road about 100 yards from the runway. The three craft did a flyover, then circled back to land, with the 747 touching down as the fighter jet screeched through the air alongside.
The Endeavour, one of three space shuttles traveling to museums with the end of the NASA shuttle program last year, has clocked an impressive journey. In addition to its millions of miles traveled, it's spent 299 days in space, made 4,671 orbits, had 25 flights, a dozen visits to the International Space Station, one docking with the Russian Mir space station and carried out the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Although not quite the end of its road, Endeavour's touchdown at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, its eighth landing at Dryden, was a kind of homecoming. The shuttle landed there after its first mission, in 1992.
"I have found today to be surprisingly emotional," said Gray Creech of the media relations office at Dryden. Creech has seen about 10 shuttle landings in his 16 years at Dryden, he said. "(It's) the end of a 30-year program. This is the last time the space shuttle is going to land here, ever."
NASA is retiring its surviving fleet of four shuttles to museums in Washington, D.C., (the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum now has the Discovery shuttle) and New York City (the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum houses the Enterprise, which hasn't flown in space). The Atlantis shuttle will stay at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Fla. And the Endeavour will head to the California Science Center next month.
After the landing, the 747 and shuttle parked outside an enormous hangar at Dryden on Thursday. NASA employees and their families had been invited to see Endeavour at a closer range and swarmed around it and the 747 in the bright sun, posing for photos and buying souvenir hats and key chains.
Endeavour was built in Palmdale, as the rest of the shuttles, but as a replacement to the Challenger. It took from 1987 to 1991 to complete. Barbara Morgan, one of the crew members on a 2007 Endeavour flight, had been the backup for Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and crew member killed in the 1986 explosion of the Challenger shuttle shortly after its launch.
Endeavour landed at Edwards after a 7 a.m. takeoff from Houston and a refueling stop in El Paso.
Three of the six crew spoke to reporters after the landing. Bill Brockett, who served as the commander of the flight from Houston to Edwards, spoke about the technical challenges of the flight, but said the one-day delay leaving Florida was a good decision.
"We were very pleased that we did delay because there were absolutely no issues with the weather coming out here," Brockett said. "The air was smooth, which we like. You can imagine (with) that weight sitting on top of the airplane, that turbulence is not a good thing."
"We're all sad to see Endeavour retire, the shuttle fleet retire," Brockett said. ""We're glad that it went as well as it did today."
Brockett is part of a rotating six-member crew taking the shuttle from the Kennedy Space Center to Los Angeles International Airport.
On Friday morning, the Endeavour and 747 carrier are scheduled to leave Edwards at 8:15 a.m., then make low-level flyovers of Palmdale, Lancaster, Mojave and Rosamond. It will then head north for an airborne encore over Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. Later in the morning, it's set to fly over Los Angeles landmarks before landing at Los Angeles International Airport.
But like an aging rockstar who can't let go of adoration, the shuttle will be feted one last time as it's paraded through the streets of Los Angeles on Oct. 12 and 13 on the way to its new home at the California Science Center.
Antonie Boessenkool of The Bakersfield California provided coverage of the shuttle's landing and festivities at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday.