The space shuttle program in the United States traces its beginning back to the mid-1970s when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) decided to create a fleet of reusable orbiters. The first shuttle manufactured was the Enterprise, which was named after the Star Trek, starship from the 1960s television series. The first orbiting shuttle, Columbia, was launched into space in April 1981. The last mission to space for the shuttle program was carried out by the shuttle Atlantis in July 2011. In all, six orbiters were built including the shuttle Endeavour, which can be seen today at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.
More than 20 organizations throughout the country petitioned to become home to the retired shuttle in 2012, but Los Angeles gained the prize. Transporting such a huge and complex machine was no easy task. It landed at the Los Angeles International Airport on September 12, 2012, and three weeks later began its journey through the streets of L.A. to the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
The orbiter encountered a few problems during its 12-mile journey, and it drew thousands of spectators to the streets to catch a glimpse of the giant spacecraft. Endeavour required a police escort through temporarily closed streets. More than 400 oak trees were cut down to clear the path for the shuttle; power lines and telephone poles had to be removed to accommodate the behemoth. Endeavour also had difficulty crossing bridges throughout the city, but in the end, the shuttle reached its final destination.
Today, the Endeavour exhibit can be seen at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. It is a piece of American history that is a must-see attraction to all visitors to the greater Los Angeles area.