The California Science Center begins the complex process of vertically displaying the space shuttle Endeavor

A highly technical operation began Thursday in Los Angeles to put NASA’s retired space shuttle Endeavor on permanent display in vertical launch mode with an external tank and two solid rocket boosters.

Workers used a crane to lift the lower sections of the boosters at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in California, which is currently under construction at Exposition Park.

The parts, called butt skirts, must be precisely positioned so that the entire assembly can be stacked properly. Officials say it will be the first time the procedure has been performed outside a NASA facility.

The 20-storey gallery will be set on a 1,800-tonne (1,633 metric ton) concrete slab supported by six core insulators to protect Endeavor from earthquakes.

Built as a replacement for the destroyed Space Shuttle Challenger, Endeavor flew 25 missions between 1992 and 2011.

When NASA’s shuttle flights were discontinued, Endeavor flew to California aboard NASA’s Boeing 747 aircraft carrier in 2012, drawing crowds as it flew over places in the state associated with the space program.

After landing at Los Angeles International Airport, the shuttle was placed on a special trailer and then made a splash as it passed through the city’s narrow streets to the California Science Center over the course of several days.

Last year there was a file opening ceremony of the Air and Space Center on the eleventh anniversary of Endeavor’s last return from space.

December 31st will be the last chance to see Endeavor as it has been shown (landing site horizontally) for years since its arrival at the California Science Center.

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The shuttle will move across the Exposition Park and be lifted by crane to be intricately attached to the outer tank. The Air and Space Center will be completed building around the entire shuttle stack.

The Center Foundation has raised approximately $350 million of the project’s $400 million goal.

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