Objects may be larger than they appear... Endeavour's last journey


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The Independent Online

Hundreds of people gathered on the streets of Los Angeles this weekend, as the retired space shuttle Endeavour embarked on its final journey, a 12-mile trip ending at the California Science Centre, its new permanent home.

Somewhat slower than on any of its previous outings, the spacecraft – which has reached top speeds of 17,000mph – was placed on a massive wheeled carrier, and trundled steadily along the road at a sedate 2mph.

About 400 trees were chopped back, and all electrical lines were lifted up in order to make room for the shuttle's 8ft wingspan, which passed only a few inches away from the tops of some buildings.

Manoeuvred by Matt McBride, a 52-year-old professional driver, the truck, which was situated at the centre of a large convoy of police and contractors, slowly pulled the 75-tonne spaceship home. The cost of the operation is believed to be in the region of $10m (£6.25m).

Since its first trip in 1992, Endeavour has accomplished 25 missions and orbited the globe almost 4,700 times. However, the last miles it covered this weekend were most possibly the trickiest and most conspicuous.