Houston Airport Shuttle To Downtown
Retired shuttle Endeavour set for stop in Houston en route to California museum
The retired US space shuttle Endeavour touched down in Houston, Texas on Wednesday – the first stop on its way to a new life in a Californian museum.
Bolted to the top of a jumbo jet, NASA’s youngest shuttle departed Kennedy Space Centre at sunrise.
Hundreds of people – astronauts, space centre workers, tourists and journalists – gathered at the runway to bid Endeavour farewell following two days of rain delays.
Crowds also lined nearby beaches as the shuttle swooped in and out of low clouds in one final show.
Onlookers waved, saluted, blew kisses and cheered as Endeavour made one last swoop over its old landing strip, and then aimed for the Gulf of Mexico.
Several hours later, onlookers cheered excitedly as Endeavour flew over its landing place in Houston, not far from the home of NASA’s Mission Control.
The jet carrying Endeavour landed a short time later at Ellington Field.
Endeavour will spend the night in Houston before continuing its journey to Los Angeles International Airport, where it’s scheduled to land on Friday.
In mid-October, Endeavour will be transported down city streets to the California Science Centre.
Houston wasn’t chosen as a shuttle retirement home. Instead, it got a full-sized replica used for training.
This is the last flight for a space shuttle. Atlantis will remain at Kennedy for display. Discovery is already at the Smithsonian Institution, parked at a hangar in Virginia since April.
Endeavour – the replacement for the destroyed Challenger shuttle – made its debut in 1992 and flew 25 times in space before retiring.
It logged 123 million (m) miles in space and circled Earth nearly 47-hundred times.
The back-to-back delays in the ferry flight resulted in one day being cut from the Houston visit.
The city was one of the bidders for a permanent shuttle exhibit, but had to settle for the replica shuttle from Kennedy.
It lost out to New York City for the Enterprise, the shuttle prototype that was housed for years at the Smithsonian.
NASA retired its shuttle fleet last summer, under the direction of the White House, to spend more time and money on reaching destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.
Asteroids and the planet Mars are on the space agency’s radar for crewed missions.
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