Space Shuttle Endeavour From Up Close: My Photos

by Greekgeek

How often do you get to see a space shuttle so close that the wing is almost over your head? Here's my great photos of Endeavour arriving at the California Science Center.

It takes something like a space shuttle trundling through downtown Los Angeles to tempt me to make the trip up to the big city. When I heard that Endeavour's progress through the city streets was being slowed down by tight squeezes, I hopped a train, navigated my way through the LA subway system, and arrived in the Vermont parking lot next to the California Science Center about 20 minutes before it arrived.

Endeavour did not want to go easily into that good night. The baby of the shuttle fleet wanted to bask under a cloudless California sky for a few more hours. I spent about five hours in the hot sun keeping it company, but it was worth it! Without further ado, here's my pictures, photos, and one clumsy iPad drawing of Endeavour's last ride.

All photos on this page © Ellen Brundige

The Space Shuttle Endeavour's Last Mission

Rolling onto the grounds of the California Science Center
At 10:50, Endeavour inches into view on MLK Jr Blvd
At 10:50, Endeavour inches into view on MLK Jr Blvd
Turning left, it squeezes past a few last houses,
Turning left, it squeezes past a few last houses,
pauses about an hour for some touch-up tree trimming
pauses about an hour for some touch-up tree trimming
and trundles towards us. (Bill Robertson Lane, if anyone's curious.)
and trundles towards us. (Bill Robertson Lane, if anyone's curious.)
A cheer goes up as the battle-scarred bird rolls past, practically glowing in the sun.
A cheer goes up as the battle-scarred bird rolls past, practically glowing in the sun.
The tail and engines of Endeavour dwarf bystanders and the L.A. Coliseum behind them.
The tail and engines of Endeavour dwarf bystanders and the L.A. Coliseum behind them.
Someone kindly snaps my photo with the Endeavour.
Someone kindly snaps my photo with the Endeavour.
A streetcorner preacher with a megaphone instructs the space shuttle to repent.
A streetcorner preacher with a megaphone instructs the space shuttle to repent.
I confess that I like the red umbrella's message better.
I confess that I like the red umbrella's message better.
The patina of lift-off and reentry turns space shuttle engines and tiles into art.
The patina of lift-off and reentry turns space shuttle engines and tiles into art.
More abstract art: the seam of the cargo bay doors, with dark heat tiles shielding the hinges.
More abstract art: the seam of the cargo bay doors, with dark heat tiles shielding the hinges.
I ogle the trailing edge of the wing flaps, which used to slow it from supersonic speed on reentry.
I ogle the trailing edge of the wing flaps, which used to slow it from supersonic speed on reentry.
Another space shuttle beauty shot with Los Angeles Coliseum at right.
Another space shuttle beauty shot with Los Angeles Coliseum at right.
Junior astronaut: "Wheeeeeee I can fly!"
Junior astronaut: "Wheeeeeee I can fly!"
Staring into sunglare, it often looked as if people were holding up Endeavour's wings with their hands.
Staring into sunglare, it often looked as if people were holding up Endeavour's wings with their hands.
A worker minding rear clearance gives us a sense of scale.
A worker minding rear clearance gives us a sense of scale.
Larger version of a photo I tweeted for #spottheshuttle. (iPad picture)
Larger version of a photo I tweeted for #spottheshuttle. (iPad picture)
2:23 PM. The Space Shuttle Endeavour finally comes to rest outside its new home, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.
2:23 PM. The Space Shuttle Endeavour finally comes to rest outside its new home, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.

Welcome Home, old Friend

My Portrait of the Space Shuttle Endeavour outside the California Science Center
Drawing: The Space Shuttle Endeavour Outside Its New Home
Drawing: The Space Shuttle Endeavour Outside Its New Home
by Ellen Brundige (sketched on my iPad)

Recommended Link:

Fooey, they skipped past me! Still fascinating.

My Video: Endeavour Inside Temporary Hangar

Members-only preview in Samuel Oschin Pavillion, taken 10-27-12

More photos of Endeavour Inside Hangar

taken at members sneak preview Oct 27, 2012
The Endeavour has landed in Los Angeles, and she's settling into her new home. Here's a sneak preview of the new California Science Center Endeavour exhibit!

But Wait -- I Saved the Best For Last!

Vidoes: A Look Back at the Shuttles in Flight

However, photos or clumsy portraits of a space shuttle on the ground are nothing compared to the roar of the engines rippling across a beach on a chilly Florida morning.

The first video below is an awesome compilation of all the audio and video feeds from a shuttle launch, everything from inside mission control and the shuttle to out on the beach where spectators watch. Click the video's title to open it in a spare window, choose HD and fullscreen (icon at lower right), crank up the volume (unless you'll wake the neighbors), and hold on tight.

The second video is an excellent retrospective of the shuttle program, narrated by William Shatner, well worth watching in its entirety.

The last is a lovely landing out at Edwards AFB, California. Fast forward to about 2:20 to hear the sonic booms and watch the vortices formed by the shuttle's wingtips. Remember, the shuttle lands as a glider, without using engines, so the pilot has one chance to get it right!

Three Great Space Shuttle Videos

A launch in all its rumbling glory, a great retrospective, and one perfect landing!

Interesting Space Shuttle Links

More about Endeavour, the space program, and the shuttle's new home

California Science Center's Shuttle Pavilion
Officially, its name is the Samuel Oschin Pavillion. It'll open to the public October 30. Here's ticketing information and much more.

Six Surprising Facts About the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space.com comes through with brief yet informative tidbits about Endeavour.

NASA Spinoffs: A Few Inventions from the Shuttle Program That Help US
NASA is really, really bad at tooting its own horn. The shuttle program assisted thousands of scientific and medical breakthroughs, but we almost never hear about them -- even though we all benefit from some of them. Here's just a few shuttle program "spinoffs."

How Endeavour Saved the Hubble Telescope
Not only was the Hubble's lens screwed up, but it would have fallen from the sky had not Endeavour and its crew done a space rescue at the very edge of the shuttle's range and human endurance (back-to-back spacewalks for DAYS) to repair a national treasure. Rewards? Decades of the most amazing telescope research and photos we've ever seen.

A Few Shuttle Items on Amazon

Saving Hubble

A fascinating, fun documentary from NOVA chronicles one of the most daring shuttle missions ever. It was worse than you think! (Free on Amazon Instant Video if you've got Prime).

Only $1.99

View on Amazon

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Launch Celebratory Tie-Dyed T-Shirt

What a gorgeous t-shirt design. Hey, Mom...?

Only $22.98

View on Amazon

1995 Space Shuttle Hallmark Keepsake Ornament

This space shuttle ornament always hangs proudly on our family's Christmas tree. Small lights glow behind the windows, engines, and on the wee satellite that an astronaut is assisting from the cargo bay.

Only $15.00

View on Amazon

Endeavour's Journey Through LA: Realtime Video (with sound)

Your Turn!

I've told the story of my own relationship to the space shuttle program already. 

How about you? What are some of your space shuttle memories?

Have you seen any launches or landings? Do you know anyone who worked for the space program? Did you follow any of the missions or early launches on TV? Or are you lucky enough to remember some of the early space programs like Mercury and Apollo? Please, share some of your memories.

Also, if you snapped any photos of Endeavour in Los Angeles that you'd like to show off, by all means, post a link to your photos in the guestbook below!

Updated: 10/28/2012, Greekgeek
 
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BrendaReeves on 10/22/2012

I remember the shuttle traveling through town on it's way out to EAB when it was first built. When the shuttle landed out there, we would get two sonic booms so loud it rattled all the windows. Every time it happened I thought it was an earthquake. The big one!

EFriedman on 10/17/2012

Loved your drawing of the shuttle going home. I recall watching the first landing so very many years ago on my tiny B/W television, so excited that I took a photo of the screen as the first shuttle returned to Earth and touched down. EF

poddys on 10/16/2012

Great photos Ellen, it had to be an amazing day, sad in so many ways for you, the end of an era. I saw about 10 launches, only 1 from Titusville (12 miles away), the rest from Deerfield Beach (over 100 miles away). The Shuttle program has always fascinated me, and it's sad to see these technological wonders consigned to museums.

belinda342 on 10/15/2012

Great pictures! It must have been very moving watching her go by. There is a lot of history there.

selecteddee on 10/15/2012

Ellen, I am so glad you got to see the Space Shuttle up close and to photograph the journey to it's new resting place. A once in a lifetime experience, I suspect, and one you will never forget. Great photos!

nightowl on 10/15/2012

Unfortunately, I missed this homecoming, and the closest I ever got to a space shuttle was when I passed Edwards AFB (unknowingly) about 2 hours after a shuttle had landed there. But I vividly remember the horror of watching the Challenger disaster unfold on live TV. It was one of those moments in time that get etched in your memory in great detail.

dustytoes on 10/15/2012

Awesome pictures of the space shuttle! I once watched a lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida when I lived there. It's breathtaking.

Jerrico_Usher on 10/15/2012

Awesome! I'm jealous!

Sheri_Oz on 10/15/2012

I don't know anyone connected with the space program and I am so excited for you that you got to be there when the shuttle landed. YOU are my closest personal connection with this bit of human history. Wonderful photologue.

2uesday on 10/15/2012

Fantastic, I saw the shuttles journey on the news but to have been there and to have taken photos of it must have been an amazing experience.

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