Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavor 'GO' For Piggy-Back Flight

Space Shuttle Piggy-Back Over Florida's Space Coast
MERRITT ISLAND, Florida --  NASA managers conducted a weather briefing Tuesday morning and gave a "go" to proceed toward the planned 7:15 a.m. EDT departure of NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, and space shuttle Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A final weather review will be held at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

A cold front that twice delayed the start of Endeavour's ferry flight to Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, is predicted to move far enough away from the flight path to permit takeoff. The worst weather in the Kennedy area will be offshore to the east. Today, thunderstorms are expected over Kennedy, so the SCA/Endeavour has been moved inside the Shuttle Landing Facility's Mate-Demate Device for protection. The SCA will back out of the structure at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

On Oct. 11, 2011, NASA transferred title and ownership of Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Despite the one-day delayed departure from Kennedy, NASA still plans to transport Endeavour to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by Thursday, Sept. 20. 

In cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the SCA is scheduled to conduct low-level flyovers at about 1,500 feet above locations along the planned flight path. The exact timing and path of the ferry flight will depend on weather conditions and operational constraints. Some planned flyovers or stopovers could be delayed or cancelled. If the ferry flight is postponed again, an additional advisory will be issued. 

At sunrise on Sept. 19, the SCA and Endeavour will depart Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility in Merritt Island, Florida.  Following takeoff, the SCA will head south along the coast and turn back north above the Indian River for one final low pass along Florida's Space Coast, including Kennedy, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base. 

The aircraft will fly west and conduct low flyovers of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. As it arrives over the Texas Gulf Coast area, the SCA will perform low flyovers above various areas of Houston and Clear Lake before landing at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center. 

Social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour's orbiter vehicle designation. 

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

Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on display in the science center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, embarking on its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers. Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles. 

Watch the Space Shuttle Endeavour take-off live from Kennedy Space Center, Florida:


PHOTO: Space Shuttle Discovery Low-Level Fly Over / Brevard Times File 

Discovery Piggy-Back Over Brevard County