The Space Shuttle Endeavour's once-in-a-lifetime flight over the Bay Area on Friday morning was pushed back an hour to give more time for fog to burn off, NASA Ames officials said Thursday afternoon.
The shuttle, which will piggyback on a specially modified Boeing 747, was set to make a low-altitude pass over the Bay Area around 9:30 a.m. after taking off around 8:15 a.m. from Edwards Air Force Base near Los Angeles where it landed Thursday afternoon.
Before making it to the Bay Area and completing the final leg of its flyover, the Endeavour will pass by Palmdale, Lancaster, Rosamond and Mojave in Southern California and then head north to Sacramento, where the shuttle will fly near the California State Capitol.
Anytime after 9:30 a.m. local viewers should look toward the Golden Gate Bridge where thousands are expected to come out and watch the historic flyover, although an hour later than initially planned.
The slight schedule delay was decided by NASA, the California Science Center, and the Federal Aviation Administration, officials said.
It’s a sight that will be hard to forget: the last space shuttle, securely piggybacked onto a modified Boeing 747 jet, flying low over the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area and the state Capitol building, at just 1,500 feet.
“The five-story space shuttle will be hard to miss from the observatory deck at Chabot,” mused Melissa Rosengard, who put out an word Tuesday that the Chabot Space & Science Museum in the Oakland Hills was throwing a pajamas-optional flyover party, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.
Alas, vehicle reservations to NASA Ames’ free flyover party at Moffett Field were already booked up by Tuesday (touting the availability of breakfast at the aforementioned food trucks). You can still walk in via VTA Bus route 51 and VTA light rail.
All the hallmarks of a happening are showing. Peninsula Bike Party announced a Space Shuttle Bike Ride, meeting early at the Mountain View Caltrain Station to ride over Moffett Field Friday morning, vehicle passes in hand. The Geek Club sent out word on meetup.com. A middle school in Elk Grove, the Sacramento Bee reported, will send 40 students to watch the Capitol flyover.
It is the last chance to see the Endeavour in the air. If you never made the trek to Edwards Air Force Base in the Antelope Valley to watch the space shuttle landings in their heyday — the way many in this valley have — it’s hard to describe the excitement. But it’s real.
There are flyovers planned en route from Florida, over the Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Michoud Assembly Plant near New Orleans, the White Sands Test Facility.
In Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center, crowds are readying for a flyover and a chance to see the shuttle overnighted at Ellington Field. In all these places that were so integral to the space program, Moffett Field included, the last tour of the Endeavour prompts emotion.
By Friday morning when Northern California’s turn comes, Endeavour is scheduled to take off from Edwards Air Force Base, head up to Sacramento, cruising by landmarks, flying over the East Bay about 8:30 a.m. From there, it’s scheduled to head over San Francisco, and a tribute cruise 9-9:30 a.m. over Moffett Field and NASA Ames, where so much of the important space shuttle work was performed.
Then, it’s on to L.A., where 10:30 a.m. flyovers are planned — where else?— over Disneyland, among several locations. All in a morning's work.
Endeavour will become a land-bound exhibit in the California Science Center in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park, the latest of the space shuttles to transition to civilian life, on museum duty. Not six months ago, Space Shuttle Discovery thrilled Washington D.C. with its April flyover all over restricted air space before settling in as an exhibit of the National Air and Space Museum.
Tuesday, NASA sent out suggested viewing locations — for maximum photo op possibilities — ranging from the State Capitol in Sacramento, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, Chabot Space and Science Center, Exploratorium, Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
But really, wherever you are, try to look up on Friday morning, from the roof of a parking garage, or out in the park.
And wave, even if they can't see you. You'll be glad you did.
— Bay City News Service contributed to this report.