- Posted October 14, 2012 by
Los Angeles, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Light Years: Your view of space and stars
Endeavour's Final Enduring Mission
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
After missing out on the fly-over transit ferry of the space shuttle Endeavour, I made a vow to be there when it made its move from LAX to the California Science Center. Officials recommended taking the Metro in, so being a good citizen I parked at the La Cienega / Jefferson station on the Expo Line and bought my very first TAP card. The park and ride lot was quite clean and accessible, I was worried that since there were lots of spaces open, perhaps I was too late and had missed the shuttle again. Boy, was I wrong!
Following updates via my iPhone, I noted the shuttle was 3 hours behind schedule, which meant I could get off at the Expo / Western station with time to spare. I made the walk south to Martin Luther King Boulevard and picked out a nice spot to wait for Endeavour. This was around 6pm.
After an hour passes, rumors start flying about how the shuttle is stuck at the intersection of Crenshaw and MLK. I decide perhaps it's faster if I walk to the shuttle instead of waiting for it to come to me. This would turn out to be the best decision I made that night. I made my way through the crowd and walked a few long blocks from Western to just before Crenshaw.
Families were having a grand ole time partying in their yards, as that part of MLK is lined with residential homes. People were grilling up hot dogs and offering them to passer-bys. As I got closer to the intersection, police closed off the entire street to vehicle traffic and there was a street fair atmosphere. In the distance, I could see a large white tail section under a battery of flood lights.
The tail section grew larger, and the crowd more dense. Police were trying to keep people up on the sidewalks and away from the street to allow emergency vehicles to pass through. I met many wonderful, friendly people that night from all over the county who had come for this historic once in a lifetime event.
Staking out a new spot along the road, I camped out again for a few hours. Police kept clearing the road, and once in awhile it seemed like it might start moving. People were happy and celebrating in a cheerful mood, smells of fried chicken wafted through the air from a nearby restaurant next to the shuttle and made everyone's mouths water. A young lady noticed the officers were eating a snack and jokingly asked if she could have some, he obliged and started handing out snacks to the crowd. Law enforcement was friendly and courteous to all.
After a few more hours, a police woman walked by and mentioned it will likely be a long time before things started moving again. I decided to walk up to the intersection and do a walk-around of the shuttle as best I could. Most of the crowd had already gotten the same idea and moved closer to get their view and snapshots and go home for the night. By midnight the crowds had thinned out a little bit so it made navigating the final distance much easier than expected.
The orbiter is a sight to behold. You really get a sense of how huge it is when it is sitting in the middle of what's usually a busy multi-lane intersection and taking up the entire width of both sides of the roadway. The transport maintenance crew was working on the dolly, welding sparks were spraying into the night. I tried to get some shots with both my iPhone and my Canon DSLR camera. The phone was used to transmit photos online for friends to see, while the camera would hopefully capture higher resolution photographs and video for later perusal.
After an hour or two of walking about the shuttle, it was time to say goodbye and head back to the Metro station before they shut down the trains for the night. This time I chose to board at Expo / Crenshaw. Again I tapped my way into the station and after about 10 minutes a train stopped in front of me. I boarded it and made my way back to Jefferson station, where I picked up my car and headed home for the night.
I'm extremely happy with the experience, and so proud that we as a community were able to pull this off with mutual respect and caring for all. Parents brought their kids of course. College students came to admire. An elderly couple who had arrived late in the night bubbled with child-like delight, pleased that they were able to make it to the intersection before the shuttle left.
Welcome home, United States Orbiter Vehicle-105 Space Shuttle Endeavour. May you inspire tomorrow's pioneers of all ages to reach farther and higher than we've ever gone before.