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Friday, September 28, 2012

Just when you thought Space Shuttle pictures couldn't get any better, this image of Endeavour soaring over LA comes along

By JAMES NYE

The final approach of the final flight for the final landing of the shuttle Endeavour has been hailed as the best picture taken during the relocation of the space planes across the country which began in the spring

Since April, dramatic footage and photographs of NASA's retired space shuttles being relocated across the country have caused hearts to soar - and it seems the old bird has left its best till last.
Seeming to glide across a hazy Los Angeles sky with typically grid-locked traffic bordered by green palms below, this image of the final landing of the shuttle Endeavour at LAX from last week has been hailed as a fitting last shot of the pride of America's manned space program.
Better even than the majestic images of the shuttle Enterprise as it made a fly-by of New York in spring and grander than Discovery saluting the White House in Washington D.C. as it flew over the nations capitol in April.

Vista: Endeavour, mounted on a 747, flies over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last week as it performed a final fly-by of the city

Marking its first and indeed last landing at the major Los Angeles airport hub, the final hurrah for Endeavour came as it completed its tour of California piggy-backing atop a 747 fitted specially for the transportation of the shuttle.
During its final flight, the iconic space plane and escorting jet fighters were photographed near several of California's most famous icons including the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood Sign and the skyline of Los Angeles.

Landmark: The shuttle flying over the Golden Gate Bridge across the San Francisco Bay

This picture captures the very last moments the space shuttle will ever be seen in the sky as now all are in place at locations across the country where they will become museum pieces.
Endeavour itself is scheduled to be towed along the streets of Los Angeles to California Science Center where the shuttle will be transformed into a educational exhibit and monument to America's preeminence in space.

The end: Endeavour cruises over the Hollywood sign as it nears the end of its final journey

The youngest shuttle, Endeavour replaced Challenger, which blew up during liftoff in 1986. NASA lost another shuttle, Columbia, in 2003 when it disintegrated during re-entry. Fourteen astronauts were killed.
During 25 missions, Endeavour spent 299 days in space and orbited Earth nearly 4,700 times, racking up 123 million miles.
Back in April, tens of thousands of spectators lined the banks of the Hudson River to witness the one-time test shuttle Enterprise flying at low-attitude above some of Manhattan's most iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center.
The wonderful spectacle was part of the space agency's process of wrapping up the shuttle program and took place ten days after Space Shuttle Discovery soared over the Washington Monument, White House and the Capitol before landing at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
The space shuttle Atlantis will not take to the skies and instead will remain in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center where it will also become a museum.

Welcome to New York: An image taken by NASA shows the space shuttle Enterprise behind the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building as it soared over Manhattan in April

Cameras at the ready: Spectators gathered along the river at Weehawken, New Jersey as the Enterprise flew above the Manhattan skyline. The aircraft eventually landed at John F. Kennedy airport and was then transported by barge to the USS Intrepid Air and Sea Museum on the Hudson

Stunning: Enterprise, which was the original prototype for the space shuttle program, flies above the Statue of Liberty on its approach to Manhattan

NASA's shuttle program, officially dubbed Space Transportation System (STS), began with the launch of Columbia on April 12, 1981. In total, 135 missions took off, with the average cost behind each mission totalling about $775million, according to NASA.
The program's five shuttles have made 21,152 Earth orbits, spending more than three-and-a-half years in space between them.
Among the many giant leaps for mankind in the program’s 542,398,878 miles traveled are the development of the Spacelab reusable laboratory, establishment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory satellite (launched during a Columbia mission in 1999), the first American female in space (Sally Ride, who flew aboard Challenger in 1983), and the oldest person in space (John Glenn, who climbed aboard Discovery at the age of 77 in 1998).
The program’s many triumphs were not without tragedy, as 14 astronauts were killed in two separate accidents. Challenger exploded in the air shortly after take-off in 1986, while Columbia was lost as the shuttle was returning from a space mission in 2003.

Dramatic Discovery: Onlookers outside the White House watch as Discovery makes one final flyover above the presidential residence in April

Photo ops: Shuttle Discovery soared across the D.C. sky on its way to Dulles Airport on Monday, providing amazing images with the area's most recognisable landmarks

The other shuttles – Endeavour (which was built after the loss of Challenger), Atlantis and Discovery – were launched and re-launched on dozens of missions over the program’s 30 years.
But the star of the fleet was Discovery, which made an incredible 39 journeys into space and now resides at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
In 2011, after 30 years of momentous and visually-captivating launches, NASA ended the shuttle program.

Houston we have a problem: Despite being mission control for all space shuttle flights, Houston, Texas had to make do with a wooden mock-up called Explorer much to the city's anger

Private U.S. companies hope to pick up the slack, beginning with space station cargo and then, hopefully, astronauts.
The first commercial cargo run, by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. made the first successful link-up with the International Space Station in May of this year.

source: dailymail



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