After slow final voyage, Endeavour at new home

(CBS/AP) When the space shuttle Endeavour finally touched down in Los Angeles' Exposition Park Sunday, nobody seemed to mind that it was 15 hours late.

"In some ways I think the delays are a blessing in disguise," Yves Sergile told correspondent Ben Tracy. "More and more people have been able to come out."

Yves and Kara Sergile brought their daughter Genieve, who monitored the shuttle's approach on her iPad. "It's really big!" she said of the 122-foot-long orbiter.

Yet this endeavour also became a big ordeal. It took more than 60 hours to travel 12 miles from LAX to the Science Center. Here on Earth, the space shuttle simply ran out of space. Its 78-foot wingspan came within a credit card's width of buildings and powerline poles.

Crews rushed ahead, trimming trees and raising electrical wires, trying to keep it on the move. The city had already cut down 400 trees and elevated 100 power lines, but it wasn't enough.

As the crowds grew (and often blocked its way), the shuttle could have used a booster rocket. It slowed to just 1 mile per hour. Then a planned two-hour maintenance stop stretched to five when hydraulics on the transporter started leaking.

Yet all those problems simply gave more people more time to gaze at space history.

The space shuttle Endeavour is moved to the California Science Center, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 in Los Angeles.
AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson

Endeavour also got to see some L.A. landmarks. It passed by Randy's Doughnut Shop, passed over the infamous 405 freeway, and passed time outside of a strip mall.

In the final stretch it zig-zagged down Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, navigating a wall of pine trees on its way to its final resting place.

Apparently Endeavour was struggling with the idea of retirement, but it ended up at the California Science Center without a single scratch. Its final mission: Now complete.

"It's just a crazy thing that we did but we pulled it off," said Kenneth Philips, curator of aerospace science at the museum.

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Movers had planned a slow trip, saying the shuttle that once orbited at more than 17,000 mph would move at just 2 mph in its final voyage through Inglewood and southern Los Angeles.

But that estimate turned out to be generous, with Endeavour often creeping along at a barely detectable pace when it wasn't at a dead stop due to difficult-to-maneuver obstacles like tree branches and light posts.

Despite the holdups, the team charged with transporting the shuttle felt a "great sense of accomplishment" when it made it onto the museum grounds, said Jim Hennessy, a spokesman for Sarens, the contract mover.

"It's historic and will be a great memory," he said. "Not too many people will be able to match that — to say, 'We moved the space shuttle through the streets of Inglewood and Los Angeles."'

Transporting Endeavour cross-town was a costly feat with an estimated price tag of $10 million, to be paid for by the science center and private donations.