(Corrects name of shuttle in New York to Enterprise instead ofIntrepid in paragraph 16)
* Endeavour headed for final destination at L.A. museum * Trip will begin early Friday * City had to remove 400 trees to make room on streets By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, Oct 11 (Reuters) - The retired space shuttleEndeavour was getting set on Thursday for a road trip unlike anyof its previous journeys, one that will see it crawl through thestreets of Los Angeles instead of hurtling through the solitaryreaches of space.
Endeavour will nose out of Los Angeles International Airportat about 2 a.m. on Friday as it begins a two-day ground journeyatop a massive wheeled transporter to its final resting place atthe California Science Center on the edge of downtown.
"It's a working piece of American history. It's a fantastictechnical innovation. It represents the very best, I think, ofwhat people can do when they decide to cooperate and do goodthings," said Ken Phillips, aerospace curator at the sciencecenter, where the hulking craft will go on public display.
The California Science Center beat out a number of otherinstitutions when NASA chose it as the permanent home for the80-ton winged spaceship that flew from 1992 to 2011.
Endeavour has hop-scotched across the country from CapeCanaveral, Florida, on the back of a modified Boeing 747.Spectators have cheered and wept at the sight of the spacevehicle, which was taken out of service due to the historic endof the NASA shuttle program that began with a launch in 1981.
Endeavour has been parked at Los Angeles InternationalAirport since Sept. 21, when it arrived there after a ceremonialpiggyback flight around California.
Workers have felled 400 curbside trees along Endeavour's12-mile land path to ease its road journey. The CaliforniaScience Center will plant more than 1,000 trees along the routein place of those uprooted.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said that when theEndeavour flew over the city last month, she and her colleaguesran up to the roof of City Hall where they watched it with tearsin their eyes.
STAR AT A RALLY
Perry said she remained apprehensive about the road journey,when she said Endeavour will pass through intersections with aslittle as 6 inches (15 cm) of clearance. She also anticipateslarge crowds along the way.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the spaceshuttle come down your neighborhood street," Perry said. "Howoften does that happen?"
Los Angeles police plan to begin closing streets as early as10 p.m. on Thursday to prepare for what organizers are calling"Mission 26," in reference to the shuttle's 25 previous missionsinto space.
Soon after rolling out of the Los Angeles airport, theshuttle will pass through the nearby city of Inglewood where onSaturday morning it will be star in a massive rally outside anarena where the Los Angeles Lakers once played.
Later that day, it will stop at a shopping mall in south LosAngeles where officials will speak and a dance academy startedby "Fame" actress Debbie Allen will perform.
Once it finally arrives at the California Science Center, itwill be put on display for the public in a hanger-style metalstructure to protect it from the elements, Phillips said. Butthat is only temporary.
The California Science Center plans to build a pavilionaround the shuttle that will open in 2017 with Endeavourstanding vertically in the middle of it, Phillips said.
The other space ships from the shuttle program also eachhave a home. The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., has Discovery,New York has housed the prototype shuttle Enterprise at theIntrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, and the Kennedy Space Centerin Cape Canaveral in Florida has Atlantis.
"We have enjoyed the space shuttles, at least working hereat NASA, and it's time now to let the public enjoy seeing theshuttle first-hand, getting an up-close look at it," NASAspokeswoman Lisa Malone said.
(Writing By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston andCynthia Osterman)
Keywords: SPACE SHUTTLE/