Vivian Robinson and her alien doll joined hundreds of spectators to watch the Space Shuttle Endeavour leave Los Angeles airport on its journey through the streets of Los Angeles on October 12, 2012. The trip to the California Science Center will take two full days to complete.
Over the course of its parade through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles, Endeavour will stop for celebrations outside The Forum, the former L.A. Lakers arena, and at a street intersection where "Fame" actress Debbie Allen has choreographed a tribute performance. Read the full story.
The space shuttle Endeavour, on top of NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft or SCA, makes a pass over the Golden Gate Bridge before making its final landing in Los Angeles on Friday.
Matt Hedges / NASA
Space shuttle Endeavour, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft come in to land at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.
Gene Blevins / Reuters
Spectators wait for space shuttle Endeavour to arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.
NBC News and news services - The space shuttle Endeavour finished its flying days for good on Friday with a sightseeing tour that crisscrossed California and ended up at Los Angeles' airport. Strapped to the back of a 747 jumbo jet, the pair touched down just before 1 p.m. PT (4 p.m. ET) after a state-spanning flyover that lasted nearly five hours. One of the crew members stuck an American flag out of the hatch of the jet.
The flyover took Endeavour over the state Capitol, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood Sign and other icons en route to LAX, where the shuttle will be prepped for a slow-speed journey to its museum home next month. Continue reading the full story
Space shuttle Endeavour, atop the shuttle aircraft carrier, flies past the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin early Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.
AP reports: The space shuttle Endeavour returned to its California roots Thursday after a wistful cross-country journey that paid homage to NASA workers and former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her astronaut husband. Full Story
Gary M Williams / EPA
Thousands of students and faculty on the Mall of the University of Arizona look up as the space shuttle Endeavour flies over Tucson, Ariz., on Sept. 20. Endeavour flew over Tucson to honor former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who commanded Endeavour's final mission to space in May 2011.
Bill Stafford / NASA
Space shuttle Endeavour at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, in the late evening hours of Sept. 19, 2012, before it departed for California.
Space shuttle Endeavour flies over the skyline of New Orleans, on Sept. 19.
Michael Brown / Reuters
The space shuttle Endeavour leaves Kennedy Space Center for the last time in Florida, on the morning of Sept. 19. Endeavour, attached to a NASA modified 747 aircraft, is on the first leg of its trip to the California Science Center museum where it will be put on display. Endeavour was to leave the space center on Sept. 17 but was delayed because of bad weather between Florida and Texas, where it will make its first stop before heading to California.
David J. Phillip / AP
Scott Rush, left, photographs space shuttle Endeavour atop the shuttle aircraft carrier after it landed on Sept. 19 at Ellington Field in Houston.
Space.com reports-- Houston, we have a space shuttle. The space shuttle Endeavour landed in Houston on Wednesday for a one-day stopover while en route to its new museum home in California. Endeavour landed at Ellington Field while riding piggyback atop a modified Boeing 747 jumbo jet to end the first leg of its three-day journey to Los Angeles, where the retired space shuttle will ultimately be transformed into a museum exhibit at the California Science Center.
Space shuttle Endeavour atop a modified jumbo jet makes its departure from the Kennedy Space Center, on Sept. 19, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Nasa via Reuters
Jorgen and Ruth Sabinsky watch the fly-over of the space shuttle Endeavour atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on Sept. 19 in Cocoa Beach, Fla. This is the final ferry flight scheduled in the Space Shuttle Program era.
David J. Phillip / AP
Space shuttle Endeavour flies over Ellington Field atop the shuttle aircraft carrier on Sept. 19, in Houston.
The space shuttle is riding piggyback on a Boeing 747 that left Florida earlier today. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images
Space shuttles Atlantis, left, and Endeavour face each other as the Endeavour backs out of the Orbiter Processing Facility and Atlantis is moved out of the Vehicle Assembly Building Aug. 16, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Endeavour will be moved to the California Science Center as a permanent exhibit and the Atlantis will be kept at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
A view from the pilots seat in the cockpit of of space shuttle Endeavour is seen during a media tour at Kennedy Space Center Friday, April 6, 2012, in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Space.com reports: The first 'A' in NASA's acronym name — Aeronautics — will play a leading role in the final flights of its recently retired shuttle program. Space agency jet aircraft will take to the air Thursday (April 5) to prepare for the first in a series of deliveries of space shuttles to museums.
NASA is set to deploy two of its four orbiters later this month, and will first fly space shuttle Discovery to Washington, D.C. for its display by the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. If weather allows, a modified Boeing 747 will convey the 30-year shuttle program's fleet leader from the KennedySpaceCenter in Florida to Washington Dulles International Airport on the morning of Tuesday, April 17.
A 3-D view created from NASA imagery shows the space shuttle Endeavour docked to the International Space Station during that shuttle's last mission in May.
By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
How can you possibly improve upon the ultimate pictures of the space shuttle and the International Space Station together in orbit? By turning them into 3-D photos, of course.
That's what Italian amateur astronomer Roberto Beltramini did with the imagery captured in May by his countryman, astronaut Paolo Nespoli. The "ultimate" opportunity presented itself when Nespoli and two other spacefliers were leaving the space station to come back home during the shuttle Endeavour's final orbital tour. Nespoli shot high-definition stills and video from the departing Soyuz spacecraft, and the fruits of his labors were madepublic last month.
Beltramini took pairs of slightly offset images and tweaked them to produce these stereo views, displayed on his Space 3D gallery and republished with permission.
Roberto Beltramini / Space 3D
In this view, you can make out Endeavour's robotic arm curling around the shuttle. Red-blue glasses are required for the 3-D effect.
Roberto Beltramini / Space 3D
A different perspective shows Endeavour's rear end, head-on.
These are perspectives we'll never see again — not even during Atlantis' program-ending visit to the space station this month. It was a scheduling fluke that a Soyuz craft happened to be leaving the station while Endeavour was docked, and the circumstance is virtually certain not to be repeated.
Update for 9:40 p.m. ET: You'll need red-blue glasses to get the full 3-D effect from the pictures offered by Beltramini and Vantuyne. I'm in the process of sending out 3-D specs to at least a dozen (and probably more) members of the Cosmic Log Facebook community as part of our occasional "3-D Giveaway" program. To join the community, all you have to do is click the "Like" button on the Facebook page. The glasses are being provided courtesy of Microsoft Research. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.) If you're one of today's winners, congrats: I'll start sending out the glasses after Atlantis lifts off.
Nespoli and his two crewmates — Russia's Dmitry Kondratyev and NASA's Catherine "Cady" Coleman — just happened to be heading back to Earth while Endeavour and its crew were visiting the station, which set up a golden opportunity for the kinds of pictures that had never been taken before. The images show the shuttle and station from a distance of about 600 feet (200 meters), with Earth's curving disk in the background.
The International Space Station and the docked space shuttle Endeavour are seen at an angle in this picture, captured May 23. Endeavour is visible at the top of the station's central stack, with the shuttle's robotic arm snaking around it.
While Nespoli recorded stills and high-definition video, Moscow's Mission Control commanded the space station to do a 130-degree turn worthy of a fashion model.
Only one shuttle flight remains, and that virtually guarantees that these will be the only shuttle-station shots of this type ever taken. "It's unprecedented, and we worked hard to get here," NASA's space station flight director, Derek Hassman, said at the time.
The International Space Station and the shuttle Endeavour sail over Earth's oceans and clouds in this image, captured May 23 from a departing Soyuz craft.
NASA and its Russian partners had to work hard to get the pictures back as well: When the Soyuz crew landed in Kazakhstan, the data chips containing the precious images were left inside the spacecraft. The chips and the Soyuz's other contents had to be shipped back separately to RKK Energia's processing facility in Moscow, and then cleared for distribution. That's why it took so long to get these pictures out to the world.
Maybe they could have hustled up the process. But considering the fact that these pictures will probably be showing up in history books for generations to come, I think they're still well worth the two-week wait. Do you agree? Before you answer, check out the full-size photos in NASA's online gallery.
The space shuttle Endeavour is visible at the top of the International Space Station's line of modules, with its robotic arm extended and kinked. Endeavour is connected to the Harmony node, with Japan's Kibo lab extending to the right and Europe's Columbus lab at left. Below Harmony is the U.S. Destiny lab, the Unity node, the Leonardo storage module and the Tranquility module, with its Cupola observation deck visible toward the lower right corner of the image.
Update for 11:45 p.m. ET June 7: For the photography buffs out there ... NASA officials say that Nespoli's camera equipment was provided by the Russians, so they can't say specifically what he was using. But veterans on the NASASpaceflight.com forum have tracked down the data and say Nespoli had a Nikon D3X. I've written a follow-up posting specifically about that part of the story.
Update for 12:05 p.m. ET June 8: You had to know that the ultimate space portrait would merit a mention on the network news shows. Here's a clip from "Nightly News" in which NBC News anchor Lester Holt shares some of the imagery with TV viewers. But be sure to look at the complete NASA gallery as well:
NBC's Lester Holt reports on the ultimate pictures on "Nightly News."
Update for 5:45 p.m. ET June 8: I've put together a follow-up item about the newly released high-definition video from Nespoli's photo shoot.
The International Space Station and the shuttle Endeavour pass over the sun's disk in a photograph taken by Spain's Dani Caxete through a telescope with a filter.
By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
The space shuttle Endeavour's last spaceflight is finished, but the memories — and the images — keep rolling in. Spanish photographer Dani Caxete captured this amazing picture of Endeavour hooked up to the International Space Station as the linked spaceships sped across the sun's disk, as seen from a spot in Spain's Madrid-Guadalajara corridor.
Caxete had to be in just the right place at just the right time to catch the picture during a half-second opportunity. On his Paranoias Nocturnas blog, he notes that Pope Benedict XVI was in contact with the space crew on the same day. "Would it be the same hour? How curious...," Caxete wrote.
You can see the space station as a buggy-looking speck near the center of the sun's disk. Of course, the station was nowhere near the sun: It was passing about 220 miles (350 kilometers) overhead, while the sun is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) farther away. Can you make out Endeavour? This labeled close-up shows you the shuttle's location:
A close-up of the sun's disk shows the International Space Station, with the position of the docked space shuttle Endeavour indicated by the label.
Caxete's blog and his Flickr page offer a wealth of space images, including this multiple-exposure photo of the space station zooming past the moon's disk:
A multiple-exposure picture shows the International Space Station passing over the moon's disk.
Caxete says the picture of the station and Endeavour was taken through a 5-inch Celestron C5 spotting scope, which goes for around $400, while the moon picture was made using a telescope that he says cost about $75 (50 euros). Caxete's experience demonstrates that you don't have to spend a fortune to get some great sky photos.
And here's a free bonus: a view of Endeavour by its lonesome during its final minutes of flight, as captured on video by Noe Castillo from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The space shuttle lit up the sky on its way to its final landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center early Wednesday. The bright streak is the ionization trail left behind as Endeavour plunged through the atmosphere at an altitude of 40 miles. For more from Castillo, check out his Facebook page and his YouTube video channel.
Noe Castillo's video shows Endeavour lighting up the sky during atmospheric re-entry.
The space shuttle Endeavour and its six astronauts returned to Earth on Wednesday, closing out the next-to-last mission in NASA's 30-year program with a safe middle-of-the-night landing.
Craig Bailey / AFP - Getty Images
US space shuttle Endeavour comes in to land at Kennedy Space Center on June 1. Endeavour landed safely at Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up its final mission to space before becoming the next to last US shuttle to retire. "It is sad to see her land for the last time, but she really has a great legacy," said shuttle commander Mark Kelly moments after landing the youngest ship in the US fleet, ending its 25th journey to space.
Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP
Space Shuttle Endeavour making its final landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center on June 1.
The shuttle Endeavour leaves behind an arcing plume of exhaust in this picture, captured on Monday by the Senatobia-1 balloon from an altitude of 64,000 feet.
By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News
The hundreds of thousands of spectators who turned out to watch the shuttle Endeavour's final launch on Monday could see it for only a matter of seconds before the spaceship plowed through a cloud bank, but a camera-equipped balloon built by students captured plenty of pictures of Endeavour's ascent from 64,000 feet.
The balloon was sent up from Beverly Hills, Fla., hours in advance of Endeavour's launch, and took video with an array of high-definition digital cameras as it ascended. Even after the launch pictures were taken, Senatobia-1 continued to rise until it reached an altitude of 95,000 feet. Then the balloon popped and the payload parachuted back to Earth, its location tracked via GPS signals. Searchers found the payload stuck up in a tree in a nursery in Pierson, Fla., 130 miles from the launch site.
"This time we were sitting there waiting for it," Quest for Stars spokesman Bobby Russell told me today.
Senatobia-1 is named after the community in Mississippi that suggested "Endeavour" as the name for NASA's youngest shuttle, which was built as a shuttle fleet replacement after the 1986 Challenger tragedy. Yet another connection to Endeavour was included as part of the balloon payload: a list of signatures from students in Senatobia, wishing a speedy recovery to wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the wife of Endeavour commander Mark Kelly.
A shuttle launch costs hundreds of millions of dollars, but Senatobia-1's launch cost much less. "For under five grand you could do basically what we did," Russell said.
He said additional videos and still imagery would be made available via the Quest for Stars website, Twitpic gallery, Facebook page and YouTube page this week. Here's a sample from today, showing the payload's freefall:
Quick video showing the balloon pop and cool shots of the curvature of the earth. Note the shuttle exhaust trail as the payload plummets to the earth.
Next up is a balloon launch from the San Diego area, scheduled for next week, and then comes the big summer project: construction of the "Strato-Shuttle," a balloon-borne unmanned aerial vehicle with a 5- to 6-foot wingspan. The idea is that the balloon rises up to an altitude of more than 120,000 feet, and then releases the UAV to fly back to earth under remote control. Russell is recruiting student interns and plans to test the system in Mojave, Calif. — the same locale where the pros are working on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo and XCOR Aerospace's Lynx.
A passenger on a flight from New York to Florida caught a glimpse of U.S. space history Monday.
Stefanie Gordon of Hoboken, N.J., captured three images and a 12-second video of the final launch of the Endeavour shuttle with her phone -- about 30 minutes before her flight arrived in Palm Beach, Fla.
Stefanie Gordon captured this remarkable picture on a flight from New York to Palm Beach, Fla., after the final liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour near Cape Canaveral on Monday, May 16.
“It’s awe inspiring. I would never expect to be that close,” Gordon said. “I didn’t grasp the magnitude until after the fact.”
She also didn’t anticipate the response she got. “I’ve been retweeted by NASA, The Weather Channel. … I can’t even keep up with my friends! It’s really overwhelming. I just got off the plane and tweeted what I saw.”
Gordon was grateful for the in-flight announcement from the pilot.
“I was asleep and happened to wake up," she said. Her first thought: “Great – the one time I don’t have my camera with me.”
She shot the photos and the video on an iPhone 3GS.
A self-described lover of photography, Gordon usually keeps a trusty Canon PowerShot camera on hand, mostly for shooting pictures at Yankees’ games, where she’s a season ticket holder.
You can see more of Stefanie Gordon's tweets here @Stefmara.
Update on 5/16/11 at 8:14pm EST: A quick thank you to Newsvine user bpevansncsu who mentioned some cool images he shot while heading to St. Lucia. He caught the STS-115 launch of Atlantis in Sept 2006. You can see the images here.
Using her cell phone, airplane passenger Stefanie Gordon snapped a photo of space shuttle Endeavour's final launch into space, providing a rare glimpse of a shuttle liftoff from above the clouds. She discusses the photo with msnbc's Thomas Roberts.