Space Shuttle Endeavour Leaves Kennedy for LA
September 19 2012 | WMFE This morning at the Kennedy Space Center NASA staff and members of the United Space Alliance and Boeing team that took care of Space Shuttle Endeavour held a family reunion of sorts. They were all reunited to say good by to a not so old friend. Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off this morning through low clouds and morning dew on its way to Los Angeles and the California Science Center.
Astronaut Gregory Chamitoff flew as a mission specialist on Endeavour’s final mission STS 134. He remembered Endeavour as the youngest shuttle and still having that “new car feel to it.” Endeavour started flying in 1992. Chamitoff says even though Endeavour is leaving Kennedy Space Center now, “The public gets to get close to the shuttles. They really are engineering marvels.”
Chamitoff expressed a feeling shared by many space and (shuttle) enthusiasts as the last orbiter to leave Kennedy prepared to take off. Was it time for the Shuttle to retire?
“I think the shuttle had to retire for us to move on to the next era of space exploration, but it sure would’ve been nice if another launch vehicle was sitting on the launch pad when we did that. But that’s history, that’s politics, that’s just not what happened so we just have to march on.”
Mike Parrish worked as a Shuttle operations chief on Endeavour for the past 11 years for the United Space Alliance, a contractor that managed Shuttle. He says he has pride for all the Shuttles but a little more for Endeavour: “ That is our baby. We just take such great pride working on it, we’re humbled and blessed to work on it.”
“I’m sad in a way…the program is done. It’s sad to see Endeavour go.”, says Parrish. He also says he hasn’t seen the Shuttles age in big way. “Actually I think the Shuttles over time have gotten better. Look at where we are when we ended the program, the Shuttles were better then than they were 30 years ago. The modifications we did to Shuttles, they were safer to go fly. That’s why I hated to see the program end because the Shuttles were in the best shape ever and the crew will tell you the same thing.”
Endeavour is headed for Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center and Houston. Low level passes at NASA’s Stennis facility are also expected as the Shuttle treks to Los Angeles. It’s slated to be processed till October when it will be moved to the California Science Center.