Space Shuttle Endeavour is ready for ‘liftoff’ as crews move it toward museum

Thirteen years after its retirement, the space shuttle Endeavour was preparing for liftoff again on Friday, Jan. 26, as California Science Center crews slowly moved the orbiter across Exposition Park so it can be hoisted into the air and placed into an upright, launch-ready display.

With the help of a “self-propelled modular transporter,” the 122-foot-long shuttle was moved slowly toward a position adjacent to the under-construction Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will ultimately house the one-of-a-kind shuttle display.

The other elements of the display — two solid rocket boosters and a 65,000-pound external fuel tank known as ET-94 — are already in place, awaiting the arrival of the shuttle. Although Endeavour was being moved into position at the construction site Friday, it is not scheduled to be lifted into place until late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, weather permitting.

Final preparations are underway to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour in the culmination of Go for Stack—the complex, six-month, multi-phase process of stacking each of the space shuttle components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration. Endeavour can be seen, wrapped, between the California Science Center and the Exposition Park Rose Garden on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Final preparations are underway to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour in the culmination of Go for Stack—the complex, six-month, multi-phase process of stacking each of the space shuttle components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration. Endeavour can be seen in the back, right between the California Science Center and the Exposition Rose Garden on Thursday, Ja. 25, 2024. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Final preparations are underway to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

Worker operator moves space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

Space Shuttle Endeavor ready to be installed in preparations to move and lift space shuttle components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

People gather to see the preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

People gather to see the preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

People gather and take photos in preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

People gather and take photos in preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024.
The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

Space Shuttle Endeavor makes tight turns around a jet fighter on display in preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024. The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

Space Shuttle Endeavor makes tight turns around trees in preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024. The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

Space Shuttle Endeavor makes tight turns around trees in preparations to move and lift space shuttle Endeavour components in a 20-story, ready-to-launch, vertical configuration Friday Los Angeles CA/USA. Jan 26, 2024. The 122-foot-long orbiter will move from the west side of the California Science Center to the construction site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.(Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer)

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That move will require the use of a 450-foot-tall crane, which will lift the orbiter over the under-construction walls of the Samuel Oschin center, then lower it next to the boosters and fuel tank to complete the “Go For Stack” process of assembling the vertical display.

The 154-foot-long ET-94 fuel tank was moved into place earlier this month, after several delays caused by high winds that stalled efforts to lift the massive equipment into the air. It was eventually set in place next to the 149-foot-tall twin rocket boosters. ET-94 is the last remaining flight-qualified external tank in existence.

The Endeavour shuttle had been on display horizontally at the Science Center for more than a decade. Public access to the shuttle, however, ended on Dec. 31 so preparations could begin for its eventual move to the new exhibit, which will be the only launch-ready display of a former NASA space shuttle in the world.

The shuttle launch display will be the centerpiece of the 200,000-square-foot Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space. The building will include three multi-level galleries, themed for air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center that will be home to large-scale rotating exhibitions.

An opening date for the $400 million center has not yet been determined.

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