Shuttle Endeavour mated to Jumbo Jet for Final Flight

Image caption: Endeavour mated to Boeing 747 in the Mate-Demate device at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Sept. 14 for Final Ferry Flight to California on Sep. 17. Credit: Ken Kremer

Space Shuttle Endeavour was joined to the 747 Jumbo carrier jet that will carry her majestically on Sept 17 on her final flight to the California Science Center – her permanent new home at the in Los Angeles. Enjoy my photos from onsite at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

On Friday (Sept. 14), Endeavour was towed a few miles in the predawn darkness from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB ) to the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) and the specially modified 747 known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA.

In a day long process, Endeavour departed the VAB at 5:04 a.m. and was hauled into the gantry-like Mate-Demate device, hoisted and then lowered onto the awaiting 747 Jumbo Jet. The pair were joined at about 2:41 p.m.

Image caption: Endeavour towed past waiting Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Sept. 14 for Final Ferry Flight to California on Sep. 17. Credit: Ken Kremer

Final work to hard mate NASA’s youngest orbiter to the SCA Jumbo Jet known as NASA 905 is due to be completed by Sunday.

The 747 crew will fly perform multiple, crowd pleasing low flyovers of the Florida space coast region, the KSC Visitor complex and the beaches – giving every spectator a thrilling front row seat to this exciting but bittersweet moment in space history as the shuttle takes flight for the very final time.

Image caption: Endeavour towed out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on the way to the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Sept. 14 for Final Ferry Flight to California on Sep. 17. Venus shines to the left. Credit: Ken Kremer –

Everyone involved felt a strong mix of emotions from pride in the tremendous accomplishments of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program to the sad and bittersweet feeling that comes with the retirement of all 3 orbiters barely one third of the way into their design lifetime. All three shuttles could easily have flown tens of millions more miles but for lack of money and political support from Washington D.C.

Image caption: Endeavour mated on top of NASA SCA at Shuttle Landing Facility on Sept. 14 for Final Ferry Flight to California on Sep. 17. Credit: Ken Kremer

Altogether Endeavour flew 25 missions and traveled 122,883,151 miles during 299 days in space.

Ken Kremer

Image caption: Endeavour gently lowered on top of NASA SCA with Ken Kremer on hand at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Sept. 14 for Final Ferry Flight to California on Sep. 17. Credit: Ken Kremer

Editor’s note: Visit John O’Connor’s NASATech website for panoramic views of Endeavour’s mating:

Endeavour to Take to the Skies One Last Time

One of NASA’s 747 SCAs carries Endeavour from Edwards to Kennedy in 2008 following its landing at Edwards to conclude shuttle mission STS-126. (NASA)

Endeavour, mounted atop NASA’s modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), will become the last Space Shuttle orbiter to soar aloft when it departs Monday, Sept. 17, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a three-day flight to Los Angeles International Airport.

In cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the SCA is scheduled to conduct low-level flyovers at about 1,500 feet above many locations along the planned flight path, including Cape Canaveral, Stennis Space Center, New Orleans and stopovers in both Houston and Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Read more about NASA’s SCA: “The World’s Greatest Piggy Back Ride”

Flyovers of Sacramento and San Francisco are also planned before landing at LAX on the 20th.

After arrival at LAX, Endeavour will be demated from the SCA and spend a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar undergoing preparations for transport and display. The orbiter then will travel through Inglewood and Los Angeles city streets on a 12-mile journey from the airport to the California Science Center, arriving on the evening of Oct. 13.

See a map of Endeavour’s planned route across LA here.

Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on permanent display in the science center’s Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, beginning its new mission commemorating past achievements in human spaceflight and educating and inspiring future generations of explorers.

On August 16 Endeavour was moved from KSC’s Orbiter Processing Facility 2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building, where it’s being housed temporarily until its departure on the 17th. (Photo above at right; read more here.)

On May 16, 2011, Endeavour launched on its final mission, STS-134:

Completed in July 1990, Endeavour (OV-105) was the last shuttle orbiter to be constructed for NASA. Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles.

On Twitter and along Endeavour’s route? NASA encourages people to share their shuttle sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour’s orbiter vehicle designation.

Read more and find the full flight itinerary on the NASA news release.

Enterprise Arrives at the Big Apple

The test shuttle Enterprise is ferried to New York City on April 27, 2012 (NASA/Bill Ingalls)


Icons of America are captured together in a fantastic photo by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, taken on the morning of April 27, 2012 from Jersey City, NJ. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building… and Enterprise, the first space shuttle, seen as it was ferried toward its eventual new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

After several days of delays due to weather, the SCA with mounted Enterprise took off from Washington Dulles International Airport this morning.

Watch a video of Enterprise flying over New York here.

Enterprise was the first shuttle built for NASA. It was used to conduct test flights in the atmosphere and never flew into space, yet the data gathered from its experimental flights were integral to the development of the shuttle program.

Originally housed at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Enterprise will be demated from the SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and placed on a barge that will travel on a 2-day trip up the Hudson to the Intrepid Museum on June 4.

Enterprise departs Dulles on Friday, April 27. (NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Mark Avino)
Enterprise over Manhattan, its future home seen below. (Click for description.) NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Enterprise will open for display to the public on July 19.

See more details on the Intrepid Museum’s website.