En route to its final home in Los Angeles, space shuttle Endeavour is taking a victory tour of sorts through the southern part of the US. Yesterday, the shuttle took off from Kennedy Space Center, mounted atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), and landed in Ellington Field near Johnson Space Center in Houston, flying over the Houston area to allow crowds of people to see the unusual spectacle of the shuttle and the 747 aircraft flying together low over the city. Today, the duo made a flyover of Tucson, Arizona, a request of space shuttle commander Mark Kelly so that his wife and former senator Gabrielle Giffords could watch — along with thousands of others in the Tucson area.
@ShuttleCDRKelly posted this picture on Twitter of himself and Gabrielle Giffords watching Endeavour fly over Tucson, Arizona.
Before flying over Houston, Endeavour and the SCA made low passes over NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Lockheed Martin’s Michoud Assembly Facility on the east side of New Orleans, where the shuttle’s external fuel tanks were built.
Following an overnight stay at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday, the SCA and Endeavour will salute the surrounding area early Friday, Sept. 21 with a low flyby northbound to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. Then, the aircraft will travel south, making a pass over NASA’s Ames Research Center, Vandenberg Air Force Base and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory before heading into the Los Angeles area.
Finally, the SCA and Endeavour will land about noon PDT at Los Angeles International Airport, for an arrival ceremony before Endeavour is taken off the SCA and transported to its permanent home at the California Science Center next month.
This video shows excited students and faculty at the University of Arizona watching the shuttle fly over campus: