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Endeavour's last ride, a trip through L.A.

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 13, 2012 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Endeavour's new mission is "inspiring people of all ages," the science center chief says
  • The move to the California Science Center started Friday and will take about two days
  • Endeavour became a museum piece after NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program last year
  • The science museum says it will begin displaying the shuttle on October 30

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Calling Houston. Space shuttle Endeavour is navigating La La Land.

The retired shuttle is being wheeled through Southern California's infamous roads and highways to its final resting place: the California Science Center.

The slow trek, which started early Friday from Los Angeles International Airport, will take about two days.

Officials for months planned the logistics of the urban splashdown: 12 miles of twists and turns through the Los Angeles and Inglewood street network. The removal of utility lines and streetlights and the controversial felling of some trees have made the journey possible.

Authorities hope Endeavour gets to the center, as one police commander said, "in one piece," and they want to make sure there's no damage along the way.

The crew carefully guides the space shuttle Endeavour into its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, October 14. Endeavour completed a 12-mile journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the science center where it will go on permanent public display. The crew carefully guides the space shuttle Endeavour into its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, October 14. Endeavour completed a 12-mile journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the science center where it will go on permanent public display.
Endeavour's last trip
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Photos: Space shuttle Endeavour\'s last trip Photos: Space shuttle Endeavour's last trip
Shuttle Endeavour on parade
Endeavour's road trip

Science Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rudolph told reporters at a news conference that the move is "incredibly complex."

"We're off to a great start," he said. "Everything is going to plan."

The craft is making stops along the route, and officials encourage citizens to come out to take a look. But a top concern is civilian safety, and officials hope people trying to sneak a peek of the shuttle respect others' private property.

Once at the science museum, the shuttle, which had its first launch in 1992, will be on display forever.

"Endeavour's new mission is to inspire people of all ages," Rudolph said, "to inspire the next generation of scientists, explorers and engineers."

Endeavour, along with Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, became a museum piece after NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program in July 2011. All four shuttles have been permanently retired from service.

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Named for the first ship commanded by British explorer James Cook, Endeavour rolled out of an assembly plant in Palmdale, California, in 1991 at a cost of $1.7 billion. It was the baby of the shuttle fleet, built as a replacement for Challenger, which had exploded shortly after its 10th launch.

Over the next 20 years, Endeavour flew some of the highest-profile shuttle missions, covering nearly 123 million miles in 25 flights. It flew a Spacelab mission and numerous International Space Station assembly missions and rendezvoused with Russia's Mir Space Station.

The science museum is already trumpeting the arrival of the shuttle, saying on its website that it is building a new addition to its facility and plans to begin displaying Endeavour on October 30.

CNN's Lateef Mungin and Joe Sterling contributed to this report

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