by Dr. Ken KremerSpace Shuttle Endeavour bid farewell forever to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as she departed under cloudy skies on September 19, marking the final flight of NASA’s storied shuttle program.
Endeavour was securely fastened atop the specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as she taxied down the runway and embarked on a history-making, cross-country, ferry flight to Los Angeles International Airport and her eternal home in California.
Hordes of excited spectators gathered in hopes of catching one last magnificent glimpse of the piggybacked pair as they flew two looping north-south victory laps over the Florida Space Coast. Finally she made a return pass over the KSC shuttle landing strip before leaving the area behind to the full gamut of emotions both happy and sad.
As a member of the press, I witnessed the entire spectacle with a band of photojournalists from a perch on the roof of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.
Seeing the orbiter flyaway from the breathtaking altitude of 525 feet atop the VAB was a decidedly different experience from earlier this year when I watched the arrivals of shuttles Discovery and Enterprise amidst huge crowds of gleeful and cheering onlookers from the National Air & Space Museum at Dulles in Virginia and the Statue of Liberty in New York City. Endeavour landed back in California at Edwards Air Force Base on Sept. 20. In mid October, the 100-ton orbiter was hauled through the streets of Los Angeles to her final home at the California Science Center.
Read more at my Universe Today story here:
See my latest Curiosity mosaics published at NBC News , PBS Nova Mars Documentary on Nov 14 (9 PM) and Scientific American :
Astronomy Outreach by Dr. Ken Kremer
Amateur Astronomer’s Inc (AAI) at Union County College: Cranford, NJ, Nov 16, 8 PM, “Curiosity and the Search for Life on Mars (in 3-D)”.
AAI Website: http://www.asterism.org
STAR Astronomy Club at Monmouth Museum, Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ. Dec 6, 8 PM. “Atlantis, the Premature End of NASA’s Shuttle Program and What’s Beyond for NASA.”
Ken Kremer: Spaceflight magazine & Universe Today