Space Shuttle Endeavour Takes the Last Airborne Victory Lap image

The space shuttle Endeavour took off today from Edwards Air Force Base and will make an airborne victory lap over California before it reaches its final destination, a science museum in LA.

The space shuttle, carried by a specially modified Boeing 747, departed at 8:15 a.m. Pacific time (1515 GMT) in a final cross-country trip that began on Wednesday, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The fog in the San Francisco Bay area made the officials delay the departure with about an hour.

The spaceship is to make 20 planned low-altitude passes over some of California’s scientific institutions and well-known landmarks, such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Disneyland. Endeavour will reach Los Angeles International Airport at 12:45 p.m. local time (1945 GMT).

In 2011 NASA retired its shuttle fleet, including Endeavour, after the completion of the US portion from the International Space Station, a research complex which orbits 250 miles above Earth. Endeavour was manufactured in California, as a replacement for Challenger, the shuttle which was destroyed in the 1986 accident, which killed 7 astronauts.

Endeavour was sent in 25 missions, 12 of them for the construction of the space station, covering almost 123 million miles (198 million km) in flight during 4,671 orbits.