A space shuttle is set to make its first-ever parade through city streets this Friday and Saturday (Oct. 12 and 13), and anyone in the Los Angeles area can get a front-row seat.
The retired shuttle Endeavour, which made its last trip to space in May 2011, is soon set to join the ranks of museum displays at the California Science Center (CSC).
The orbiter flew to California in September from its previous home base at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Since then, it's been waiting at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) until the museum is ready to receive it. The final leg of its journey is set for later this week.
The space shuttle is due to make the 12-mile (19 kilometer) trip from LAX to the CSC during a two-day parade beginning before dawn on Friday morning. Over the course of its parade through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles, Endeavour will stop for celebrations outside The Forum, the former L.A. Lakers arena, and at a street intersection where "Fame" actress Debbie Allen has choreographed a tribute performance.
Endeavour will roll through the streets atop a special NASA transporter pulled by four computer-controlled vehicles. For a small part of its trip, the shuttle will be towed by a Toyota Tundra pickup truck. The whole progression is being dubbed "Mission 26: The Big Endeavour," as the shuttle previously made 25 missions to orbit. [Photos: Shuttle Endeavour's California Sightseeing Tour]
Public viewing will be possible only from select locations, as safety and logistics concerns have forced the police to shut down many streets and sidewalks.
The giant orbiter, which has a 78-foot (24 meter) wingspan and a 58-foot-tall (18 m) tail, will be a tight squeeze through many roads, where several hundred trees have had to be felled in preparation for the shuttle's passage. (The CSC Foundation is sponsoring the replanting of up to four trees in place of each downed one, as well as two years of tree maintenance.)
Here's an outline of Endeavour's expected route:
Friday (Oct. 11), 2 a.m. PDT: Endeavour to depart LAX
Friday, mid-morning: Endeavour will take Westchester Boulevard to Sepulveda, where it will stop for about nine hours for power lines to be raised.
Friday, afternoon: Endeavour will continue down Manchester Boulevard, crossing into Inglewood, where it will stop for another six hours for more power line work.
Friday, overnight: Endeavour will cross the 405 freeway.
Saturday, 8 a.m. PDT: Endeavour will pass by Inglewood City Hall, where the public can see it, and continue to The Forum for a public ceremony.
Saturday, 2 p.m. PDT: Endeavour will stop at Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard for the Debbie Allen production, which will also be open to the public.
Saturday, afternoon: Endeavour will take King to Bill Robertson Lane and then turn left into Exposition Park.
Saturday, 9 p.m. PDT: Endeavour is expected to arrive at the California Science Center, where the public can view it roll in.