THE MOST RECENT JOURNEY of the retired space shuttle Endeavour, which was in October 2012, was far shorter than any of its 25 missions into earth orbit.

Dubbed Mission 26, Endeavour's 12 mile trek from a hangar at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to its new home at the California Science Center was accomplished via four special transporter vehicles and one pickup truck crawling along the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood, California. The trip was barely a stroll in comparison with the thousands of miles the shuttle logged during each of the 4,671 times it spun around the earth. Still, from an engineering perspective, the landbased trip presented a series of challenges quite different from what the orbiter faced launching into space. For example, regardless of the other scientific and technical hurdles involved, the space missions generally rocketed Endeavour into orbit through empty skies, with only clouds and the occasional, if unfortunate, bird in the way.



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