What Space Shuttle?
Hasn’t NASA shut down its shuttle program?
Yes it has.
There wasn’t an actual “space” landing today. After three decades of space travel NASA retired it’s shuttle fleet last year, and if you didn’t know:
- Discovery went to the Smithsonian Institution’s hangar in Virginia
- Atlantis will stay at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
- and Endeavour? It went to The California Science Center in Los Angeles
- completed 25 missions,
- spent 299 days in orbit,
- orbited Earth 4,671 times
- and traveled 122,883,151 miles.
In a once in a life-time air show, Endeavour, strapped atop a 747 jumbo jet, took off early this morning from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert for a 4 1/2-hour sightseeing flight around California: up to Sacramento (the Capital), the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and various landmarks in L.A. including Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign before landing at L.A. Airport – flying low enough for us to wave and gawk
An interesting bit of trivia: NASA’s shuttle fleet was assembled in Palmdale near Edwards Air Force Base, which also served as the original shuttle landing strip and remained a backup site in case of bad weather in Florida.
Even though the Air Force base is one hundred miles north of L.A. when a space craft landed there we’d know, because the sonic boom made such a LOUD bang as it entered the earth’s atmosphere
I wasn’t going to go. I woke up feeling really yuk this morning, but one can’t miss something as exciting as seeing the shuttle fly by, and as I wasn’t working today I had no excuse. I set off too late though. I decided to go to the Griffith Observatory – hiking past the famous landmark is one of my favorite hikes – but by the time I left home the road report on the AM radio advised:
… if you’re on your way to Griffith Observatory go somewhere else. The roads are jammed and there’s no more parking spaces.
I carried on, because my plan was to park at the Greek Theater which is also in Griffith Park. Once I drove off the freeway I inched along in traffic that was barely moving, and when I heard this on the radio
…there’s no more parking at The Greek Theater. It’s filled to capacity.
and the traffic hadn’t moved in several minutes, I did a u-turn, parked my car under a tree at the side of the main road and even though it was still a few miles away, decided to walk. Hey I’m not scared of walking!
At the first traffic light I met two guys, Jack and Kendall, who lived in the neighborhood, and were also going to hike up to a lookout near the Observatory. I was invited to join them.
Kendall said the route he was taking was going to be steep and wondered whether I’d be able to do it.
I said: “You’re talking to someone who walked the Camino in Spain a couple of months ago. I haven’t met a hill I didn’t like!”
Me and my big mouth.
Kendal wasn’t kidding when he said it would be steep.
It was a hot day (we’re still having a heat wave) and when we walked in the full sunshine without any shade besides a few scrubby bushes here and there, and with temps of over 90 degrees (my car read 97 degrees when I got back to it at 1pm) and me without my hat, but with my bottle of water :-), I had trouble going up.
I had to crawl under a bush a couple of times, because I started feeling woozy.
I felt so foolish.
When I walked on the Camino and in similar temps climbed up to O’Cebreiro (at 4,100 feet) I didn’t feel faint. It took me a while to realize why I hadn’t slept last night and why I woke up feeling ill: I ate a bit of peanut sauce with my spring roll last night. I’m allergic to peanuts! (((Sigh!)))
I was eternally grateful to these two guys – strangers whom I met at a traffic light – because they didn’t leave me under the bush, and with their encouragement I managed to get up to a viewing area – one which wasn’t as high up as Kendall had planned, but still gave us a 360 degree view of the shuttle as it passed, and by the way, as an extra bonus none of us had expected, the shuttle accompanied by two fighter jets, flew past us TWICE!
I couldn’t see what I was photographing in the bright sunshine. I pointed and hoped for the best. Trudy, whom we met at the look-out place, kindly shared her photos which she took with her cell phone. They are much better than mine, as are her friend Gabriel’s.
On the way back I didn’t want to go down that steep path, but going forward would’ve taken an extra 40 minutes in that noon heat, so I went back the same way, and once again Jack and Kendall and Trudy all encouraged and helped me. Kendall let me lean on him!
You can see the “stairs” cut in the rock in the photo below.
I cannot thank you all. What a lovely experience for International Peace Day.
Because it’s not possible to take the wings off – the tiles are too fragile – it has taken months of planning to find streets which are wide enough to get the shuttle, which is five stories high and 78 feet wide, from L.A. airport to the Science Center. Overhead utility poles, signs and four hundred trees will have to be cut down.
Of course the public protested about the trees. The Science Center has promised to plant two trees for every single tree it takes down.
The shuttle will be on display at the Science Center starting October 30.
Earlier this year we all watched a red transporter [with a top speed of eight miles-per-hour crawling along our streets for eleven nights] deliver a 340-ton granite rock taken from the Inland Empire to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for an art installation which the artist Michael Heizer, called “Levitated Mass“.