LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Space Shuttle Endeavour has been cleared for landing at a Southern California museum.
According to NASA, after Endeavour’s final mission at the end of March, it will journey to the California Science Center in Exposition Park, where it will be put on exhibit.
Endeavour was built in Palmdale, beginning in 1987. It was finished in 1991 and replaced the destroyed Challenger shuttle in the space program.
When its final mission is completed, Endeavour will have traveled 115 million miles during 25 flights, carrying 139 people into orbit. It was the final shuttle built, but was the first to include safety improvements such as a drag parachute deployed on landing, and nose-wheel steering to prevent wear on the tires during runway rollout.
The announcement came on the 30th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s first shuttle, Columbia. The remaining two shuttles, Discovery and Atlantis, will go the Smithsonian Institution for its branch in northern Virginia and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, FL. New York City will get the prototype Enterprise, which was used for test flights in the 1970s and housed at the Smithsonian.
The museums beat out 21 other museums and visitor centers to host the three retiring shuttles.
The shuttle program is winding down with only two more flights left, including Endeavour’s final mission in March and Atlantis’ in June.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)