Parading into Retirement

Although the final launch of a space shuttle occurred over a year ago at Kennedy Space Center, there was still much to accomplish to prepare the spaceplanes for permanent museum display. Of the three remaining orbiters, Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour, Discovery was the first to leave the spaceport home in April 2012 for its museum home at the Smithsonian’s Udvar Hazy Center. Endeavour left KSC on the back of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in September and was stored in a United Airlines hangar at Los Angeles International for just over two weeks before her 12 mile parade through the streets of LA to the California Science Center. Shuttle Atlantis would have a much shorter journey, a short 9 mile journey to the nearby KSC Visitor Complex. Part 1 of this blog will cover the final journey of Endeavour.

Billed as “Mission 26” by the California Science Center, the move of Endeavour would attract a crowd estimated at over 1 million people along the 12 mile parade route to the science center.

After a short journey to start the day, Endeavour would be parked in a parking lot along the route. This would offer the public some great views of the orbiter as she sat on display. Later that afternoon the move would once again begin. For the start of this leg, would rent a helicopter for me to shoot from. This allowed for some stunning view of Endeavour as she travelled down La Tijera avenue.

After getting off the helicopter I would catch back up to Endeavour as she headed down Manchester Avenue.

I would catch back up to Endeavour as crews prepared for her move across the heavily travelled 405 freeway. Due to weight limits on the overpass, the motorized dollies could not be used. Toyota would capitalize on this and offer it’s Tundra to tow the orbiter across the freeway. This would result in a “Tundra Endeavour” advertising campaign and the move would be filmed for a commercial.

On what was scheduled to be the second and final day of the historic move, the activities would start out right on schedule with a large public gathering at the Forum.

After the event, crews would waste no time getting the move back underway. In the following image Endeavour is seen traveling up Manchester Avenue.

Endeavour makes the turn onto Crenshaw Drive.

Residents gather on rooftops to see the American icon pass inches from their houses.

A crew member keeps a close eye on Endeavours wingtip as she passes a group of trees.

After several delays which would delay the move by several hours, Endeavour would eventually arrive at the intersection of Crenshaw and MLK. With the move now into day three, I would have to leave to catch my flight back to West Virginia. Endeavour would eventually arrive at the California Science Center on Sunday afternoon.


I recently created a Facebook page devoted to my photography where you can stay up to date on recent shoots. Be sure to “like” the page so that you can stay up to date on what is going on!


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