Los Angeles –
A high-tech process to put NASA’s decommissioned Space Shuttle Endeavor on permanent display in a vertical launch position with external tanks and two solid-rocket boosters began Thursday in Los Angeles.
Workers used a crane to lift the lower segment of the booster to the California Science Center’s future Samuel Osin Aerospace Center, currently under construction in Exposition Park.
Segments called aft skirts had to be precisely positioned so that the entire assembly could be properly stacked. Officials say this is the first time the procedure has taken place outside of a NASA facility.
The 20-story high display will be built on 1,800 tons (1,633 metric tons) of concrete slabs supported by six so-called seismic isolators to protect the Endeavor from earthquakes.
Built to replace the wrecked Space Shuttle Challenger, Endeavor flew 25 missions between 1992 and 2011.
When NASA’s shuttles were retired in 2012, Endeavor flew to California aboard NASA’s special Boeing 747 shuttle carrier, flying over locations in the state related to the space program and gathering crowds.
After landing at Los Angeles International Airport, the shuttle was placed in a special trailer and nudged through the narrow city streets over several days to the California Science Center, creating a sensation.
Groundbreaking for the Aerospace Center was held last year to mark the 11th anniversary of Endeavor’s final return from space.
The last chance to see Endeavor, which has been displayed horizontally in a landing attitude for years after it arrived at the California Science Center, will be on December 31st.
The shuttle travels across the Expo Park and is hoisted by a crane and intricately coupled with the external tanks. Construction of the Aerospace Center will be completed around the completion of the shuttle stack.
The center’s foundation has raised nearly $350 million of the project’s $400 million goal.