By Dexter Keyton, EnStarz | Sep 21, 2012 03:05 PM EDT
Many Californians have gotten to see a historical event as they look up to the sky and see the space shuttle Endeavour heading to Los Angeles.
After celebratory low passes over Tucson, Houston and other points to the east, NASA's retired space shuttle flew from San Francisco and over the Capitol in Sacramento as part of a final aerial tour.
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On Friday thousands watched the skies from every vantage point possible to glimpse the shuttle, strapped to the back of a modified jumbo jet, on its way to the Los Angeles International Airport.
State and local law enforcement officers are bracing for possible effects on freeways as Endeavour makes low-pass across Southern California from distracting motorists.
Endeavour, the newest spacecraft of the mothballed shuttle fleet, will be rested at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. It will be displayed a reminder not only of the nation's space program but also of the prominent role the aerospace industry forged development of Southern California in the latter half of the 20th century where a majority of the shuttle was built.
"Endeavour will quickly become a must-see attraction in Los Angeles," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "More importantly, it will motivate our young people to dream about the possibilities of a world beyond our own. Endeavour is an impressive testament to the history and heritage of space exploration and aerospace innovation in our region."
Crowds have gathered along planned fly over stops around Los Angeles with Santa Monica the first to great the shuttle in the area at around 11:50 local time.
Once the shuttle lands, it will stay at LAX until its cross-town trip early next month where it will be placed on wheeled transport to the California Science Center. The science center has agreed to replant about twice as many trees as it removes and donate more than $1 million for neighborhood improvements in the affected areas.
"Over the past three decades, Endeavour has blasted off from Earth and visited space 25 times," Villaraigosa says. "The shuttle's arrival in Los Angeles marks Mission 26: The Final Endeavour. It is the mission that brings the shuttle back home to stay."
The Endeavour exhibit at the California Science Center will open on October 30.
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