Toodle oo Endeavour – You’ve done a cracking job…
After 25 missions amounting to nearly a year in space and a total of 4,671 orbits, the space shuttle Endeavour has come down to earth for its latest mission – a parade through the streets of Los Angeles.
Its final journey, which began on Friday, will see it travel from the city’s international airport to the California Science Centre, where it will go on permanent display.
Thousands of LA residents took to the streets to see the Nasa spacecraft, which once reached speeds of 17,000mph, creep past at a rather more sedate 2mph.
Endeavour crossed a bridge over Interstate 405, one of the trickiest parts of its 12-mile journey and made its way down Manchester Boulevard pulled by a Toyota Tundra pickup. Toyota is filming the event for a commercial.
Crews then spent several hours transferring the shuttle to a special, lighter towing trolley.
Power lines were taken down in preparation, with about 400 residents in the Inglewood area left without power for several hours.
The spectacle, however, and the shuttle’s place in history has proved popular.
“It’s pretty neat to see a spaceship in the street,” one observer told a local television station.
The shuttle was named after James Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour, which he commanded on his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand in the 1700s.
The name was chosen in anational competition and was intended to embody a spirit of adventure and discovery.
Its final journey was given added poignancy by the fact that it entered service in 1992 as a replacement to Challenger, which was destroyed in a 1986 accident that killed seven astronauts.
Its missions included service trips to the Hubble space telescope before it was taken out of service in May 2011.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010