Farewell to an Aeronautical hot rod…

On Friday September 21,  Southern California witnessed the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, anchored securely atop a specially equipped 747, as it made it way over Los Angeles and Orange County landmarks, with its final destination being Los Angeles International airport. And flying escort on the shuttles last tour, would be a pair of T-38 military jets. One of the landmarks identified for a fly over would be Pasadena, California’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Since my office is located in South Pasadena, I took my camera to work on Friday, with hopes of possibly capturing a glimpse of the shuttle.

Throughout the morning, the shuttle’s progress was monitored online in our office, with location updates shared by those interested in seeing the shuttle. Around 11:30 AM, the shuttle was reported leaving the Santa Monica area, so our office staff headed outside in hopes of catching a glimpse. So outside we went, climbing up onto the roof of our office for a better view. After about ten minutes, our neighbors in the next building, who were also standing on top of their taller office, yelled over that they could see the shuttle approaching. So off I ran towards the back of our roof…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_approach to South Pasadena, CA._photo 1_Friday September 21, 2012

and there is was, with its two escorts, heading straight towards us…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_approach to South Pasadena, CA._photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_directly overhead, South Pasadena, CA._photo 1_Friday September 21, 2012Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_directly overhead, South Pasadena, CA._photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012Little did we know that our office would be directly beneath its flight path…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_heading towards JPL, Pasadena, CA._Friday September 21, 2012

As the shuttle passed overhead, it started banking to the left, beginning a sweeping turn towards its next destination (JPL), with the San Gabriel mountains serving as a backdrop (above and below)…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_San Gabriel mountain back drop_Friday September 21, 2012

With another left turn, the shuttle was flying towards us once again (see below)…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_second approach towards South Pasadena, CA_Friday September 21, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_second approach towards South Pasadena, CA_photo 2_Friday September 21, 2012On this approach, we could clearly see the shuttle perched atop the 747 (above and below).

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_profile shot over South Pasadena CA_Friday September 21, 2012

And then it was on us again, with just enough time to grab a couple more shots before it banked right, and was off to its next destination with escorts in tow…

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight_profile shot departing South Pasadena CA_Friday September 21, 2012

Hard to believe that this final shuttle flight signified the end of this chapter on NASA’s space shuttle program. Looking back at the Endeavour’s statistics, over the course of its 25 missions, it successfully orbited the earth 4,671 times. Ironically, the Endeavour was retired after completing only 25 missions, well short of the 100 missions that it had originally been designed and built to sustain.

On a positive note, this event brought the population of Southern California together for an hour to celebrate the technological excellence that had created the space shuttle. And how cool to see other people also on rooftops, hoping to view  and cheer on the shuttle. And for that hour, we were all able to focus on and celebrate this technological milestone, forever linked to America’s space exploration history.

(All photos by the author)

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