Cocoa Beach, FL – Florida’s Space Coast won’t get the chance for a proper goodbye to Space Shuttle Endeavour during a final flyover at the Cocoa Beach Air Show as so many had hoped, leaving many disappointed and angry that the California Science Center is needlessly depriving the community out of millions of dollars in economic impact.
The Cocoa Beach Air Show, which normally occurs in late October, was moved to September upon the request of local leaders when informed by NASA that the targeted fly-out date for Endeavour was September 20th. The annual show draws over 100,000 people from the surrounding communities and across the state of Florida, including many space workers and their families from Kennedy Space Center.
“It’s disheartening news,” said Cocoa Beach Air Show producer Bryan Lilley. “We took a chance and moved the show up to the weekend of September 22-23 to line up with Endeavour’s targeted fly-out date. Unfortunately the California Science Center is unwilling to work with us. Instead, they appear unconcerned it will just sit in a hangar at LAX for an extra week.”
Even members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation reached out to both NASA and the California Science Center CEO Jeff Rudolph to ask if they would work with the Space Coast to move the flight a few days to coincide with the Cocoa Beach Air Show. This fly out of the shuttle could double or even triple the weekend visitor count, generating millions of dollars in economic impact for the Space Coast at a time when it is so desperately needed. No less important, it would also allow space workers, their families and Endeavour’s hometown community to give a proper farewell to the last shuttle that will ever fly. But Rudolph responded with a resounding NO, citing excuses that have nothing to do with Endeavour’s actual arrival date at LAX.
“The reasons stated in Rudolph’s letter for why they can’t allow Florida to reap this tremendous financial and emotional opportunity do not align with the known logistical requirements. It doesn’t make sense” said Lilley. “Further, the departure date has been moved in the wrong direction, three days earlier to Monday, September 17th so the Shuttle can make stops in Houston and Dryden and still make the Science Center’s preferred arrival date.”
According to sources inside United Space Alliance who process the shuttle, only a week is required to perform the work necessary to prepare Endeavour for its trip to the Science Center once it arrives at LAX. There are 22 days from the date Endeavour is scheduled to arrive until it is to be transported overland to the Science Center on October 12th.
“Flying the Shuttle out at 7:30 AM on a Monday will bring a few people from around the county,” said Tom Williamson, President of the Cocoa Beach Hotel Association. “Flying it out during the Cocoa Beach Air Show will bring many thousands from around the country, to a Space Coast still reeling from the retirement of the shuttle program.”