NASA's SPACE SHUTTLE "Endeavour" is on permanent display at the California Space Center in Los Angeles, where I had the good fortune to pay her a visit. The shuttle vehicle is impressive to see in person, massive in size, and difficult to photograph without an ultra wide-angle lens -- but my iPhone camera did a respectable job.
The shuttle was constructed following the tragic explosion of the "Challenger" and its success was critical in regaining support for our national space program after a terrible setback. And at a price tag of $2.2 billon, the investment amounted to $7 per citizen. I wouldn't mind having a souvenir of one of those unique heat-resistant tiles!
Endeavour flew 25 missions into space while reliably performing a variety of tasks including satellite retrieval and repair, Hubble space telescope repairs, and astronaut shuttle service to the International Space Station. I'd say that's a pretty good return on our $7 investment.
Much interest was generated during Endeavour's final mission: the journey on city streets between LAX airport and the final resting spot at Exposition Park. The trip took three weeks and involved removing street signs, poles, and trees. In places, it proved a very "tight squeeze" requiring skillful maneuvers, which made an exciting final journey for the public to witness.
So after traveling over 122 million miles in space including 4671 orbits around the earth, the Endeavour has retired to Southern California not far from its birthplace at Rockwell International Space Systems in Palmdale, California. Those three massive thruster engines have surely earned their rest!
If you're curious about its strange spelling, the Endeavour was named after the British explorer James Cook's flagship HMS Endeavour that carried him around the world on his first expedition in 1768. Now that's a justifiable and appropriate name for such a noble vessel.