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NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives In Florida For Shuttle Endeavour's Departure

 

NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) executes a ‘crabbing’ maneuver due to high crosswinds, before lining up with the runway. Photo Credit: Julian Leek/Blue Sawtooth Studios

NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this afternoon after a 6-hour cross-country flight from Edwards Air Force Base in southern California.  The modified Boeing 747 known as NASA 905, NASA’s original Space Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, is in Florida this week to transport the space shuttle Endeavour to its new home in Los Angeles.

The now retired Endeavour, affectionately referred to as the baby of the NASA’s shuttle fleet, will be mounted atop the enormous SCA this coming weekend in preparation for its ferry flight Monday, September 17, to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  Endeavour will make one final journey a few weeks after landing, one which will take the orbiter through the streets of Los Angeles to her final destination as a permanent museum piece at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

(Click HERE to read about Endeavour’s planned transport through Los Angeles from LAX to the California Science Center)

The cross-country flight is expected to take three days, with low-altitude flyovers planned for various locations along the way.  The SCA, with Endeavour riding piggyback, will make several passes up and down Florida’s Space Coast to give residents a final opportunity to say goodbye before heading west.  Low flyovers of NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans will be conducted before the aircraft arrives in the skies over Texas later that day.  The SCA will then descend to 1,500 feet for another series of low flyovers above Houston, Clear Lake, and Galveston before landing at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where the pair will remain for the rest of September 17 and all day September 18.

Main gear touch down, on the final Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Shuttle Landing Facility.
Photo Credit: Julian Leek /Blue Sawtooth Studios

Endeavour’s final flight picks up again at sunrise on Wednesday, September 19, with a stop planned at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso to refuel before continuing on its westward journey across the southern United States.  Another series of low-level flyovers are planned for White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, New Mexico, and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where the aircraft will land before embarking on the final leg of its journey to Los Angeles.

Departing Dryden one final time on the morning of September 20, the SCA with Endeavour will head north towards the Bay Area and perform low-level flyovers of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field and various landmarks over San Francisco and Sacramento before heading south towards Los Angeles.  The pair will make a final series of low flyovers in the skies above LA to allow the “City of Angels” to welcome Endeavour to its new home before landing at LAX around 11:00 a.m. PDT.

Arriving from Edwards Air Force, California Shuttle Carrier Aircraft NASA N905 rolls down the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility runway.
Photo Credit: Julian Leek/Blue Sawtooth Studios


3 comments to NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Arrives In Florida For Shuttle Endeavour’s Departure

  • Rochelle

    So, from this it reads as if there will be a low level flyover at Edwards. Is that accurate? I assume that will mean a crisscross where they fly by Dryden and then cloverleaf to land on the main runway. Any idea if they’ll be taking off to the west the next morning?

    • Mike Killian

      Hi Rochelle,

      Yes, according to NASA, the SCA with Endeavour WILL conduct a low-level flyover at Dryden and Edwards AFB before landing there on September 19. No details have been released yet about specifics regarding the flight path for the flyovers, so we cannot say what the exact path for the Edwards fly-over will be. The same applies to the departure the next morning. For security reasons NASA will most likely not release those details until close to the date of the fly-overs.

      It’s important to keep in mind that the planned flyovers are dependent on weather conditions and operational constraints – flyovers could be delayed or cancelled.

  • Rochelle

    Hubby was stationed at Edwards AFB when Enterprise and Columbia came up from Palmdale. He was part of the security detail when Enterprise came onto the base that first time. He was working the day Enterprise and NASA 905 took their first accidental flight and were towed back to Dryden from the far end of the main runway. Tiles that fell during Columbia’s readiness flights almost hit him as he was patroling the desert. I’d hoped to bookend his experience at first wheels up for a shuttle with final wheels up. I understand that weather and security come before all. Thank you! It will truly be an honor to see this.