NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour, which last flew in 2011, has one more important mission to complete. But it’s not what you’re thinking.
The spacecraft’s engines will not be firing up. And there’ll be no crew on board. Instead, on Monday night, a large crane will lift Endeavour into an upright position to become the centerpiece of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is set to open in Los Angeles next year as an expansion of the California Science Center.
Currently sealed inside a protective wrapping that bears the distinct shape of the legendary orbiter, Endeavour will be placed in a launch position with its familiar booster rockets and external tank to form an exhibit that’s guaranteed to attract visitors from far and wide.
Monday night’s “Go for Stack” procedure is the culmination of a six-month, multi-phase process of stacking each of the space shuttle components in a vertical configuration, the team behind the project said.
The 122-foot-long (37-meter) spacecraft will be lifted into position by a 450-foot-tall (137-meter) crane in a challenging process that has never been attempted outside of a NASA or Air Force facility. So let’s hope it goes off smoothly.
The space shuttle Endeavour was the fifth and final operational shuttle to be built. Its maiden mission, STS-49, launched in May 1992, and its 25th and final mission, STS-134, began in May 2011. A couple of months later, the space shuttle Atlantis launched the final shuttle mission for NASA.
How to watch
Fans of slow TV will be able to enjoy watching the space shuttle being carefully lifted into position. The spectacle is set to begin at 10 p.m. PT on Monday (1:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday) and will be live streamed by the California Science Center.
You can watch the event on the video player embedded at the top of this page or by heading to the Science Center’s YouTube channel, which will carry the same feed.