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Space Shuttle Endeavour Makes Final Landing


Finally this hour, to California, where space shuttle Endeavour made its final flight today. Endeavour left Andrews Air Force Base this morning on the back of a 747. It flew over San Francisco and Sacramento before heading south to Los Angeles. There, it will find new life as an exhibit in a science museum. Before Endeavour touched down, it made a low-level pass over a number of Southern California landmarks. NPR's Mandalit del Barco was with some elementary school students as the shuttle flew by.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Endeavour, Endeavour, Endeavour.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: I'm here on the playground of Theodore T. Alexander Elementary, a charter school affiliated with science center, surrounded by hundreds of school children. This is where the Endeavour will become L.A.'s newest tourist attraction. After circling the planet 4,600 times, the shuttle is finally becoming a star near Hollywood. It's flying close overhead at places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, the Griffith Observatory, Venice Beach and now right here. Here it comes now, riding on top of a 747 jumbo jet.


GENESIS MORGA: That was so awesome, and it looked like the nose is - it kind of pokes through the world.

BARCO: What's your name?

MORGA: Genesis Morga(ph).

BARCO: It's going to come back.


UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Endeavour, Endeavour, Endeavour.

MORGA: It was the most awesome airplane - I mean, show that I've ever seen.

BARCO: Have you seen any others?

MORGA: No, no.

BARCO: This historic arrival has created quite a buzz. For a month, the shuttle will be prepped at the airport before making a slow journey through the streets of L.A. on its way here to the California Science Center. But because the shuttle is so big, the center is going to be cutting down 400 trees in Inglewood and South L.A. to make way. That's something a lot of folks here are unhappy about since those neighborhoods have little green space to begin with. But the center has agreed to replant four times as many trees, to repair more sidewalks and to offer scholarships and job training. It's pretty cool. Not too many kids can say that they have a space shuttle at their school.


JORDAN PARKS: That is true.

BARCO: What's your name?

PARKS: My name is Jordan Parks.

BARCO: You know that they're not building anymore shuttles?

PARKS: I was pretty sad because since - maybe if they don't do it in a long time, I might lose interest of being an astronaut because I first wanted to be an astronaut because of Neil Armstrong, like man on the moon. What's next? Landing on Mars? Like, but that's in 20 years, and I'm like, if the people don't keep on building, like, at least reusing space shuttles over and over again, I might lose interest. So that's what I'm pretty sad about.

BARCO: Next week, the trees start getting chopped down to make room for what's expected to be a two-day parade from the L.A. airport to the California Science Center. The Endeavour's premiere is set for October 30th. In Los Angeles, I'm Mandalit del Barco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition,, and