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California chosen as retirement home for space shuttle Endeavour

LOS ANGELES, April 13 — The California Science Center (CSC) in Los Angeles said Tuesday that it has been chosen as the retirement home for space shuttle Endeavour which will finish its final mission this month.

"Endeavour will now become the centerpiece of the third phase of the Science Center's 25-year master plan and will be a major air and space gallery on the east end of our building," said CSC's CEO Jeffrey N. Rudolph.

Earlier in the day, NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden announced the plan to display Endeavour at SCS.

Bolden also announced retirement homes for the agency's other shuttles, with Discovery going to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Atlantis to the Kennedy Space Center visitors' complex in Florida and Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

Putting the shuttles on display will inspire a new generation of space travelers, Bolden said.

"People from across our nation and around the world will continue to learn from these amazing vehicles, and the stories of their crews and their missions," Bolden said at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

"The shuttles will inspire many people who are now just in school to become the next generation of exploration leaders, and millions more who are just proud and passionate about our space program will also now have a chance to see a space shuttle in person.

"I want to congratulate all of these fine institutions and wish them many visitors and exciting programs with the space shuttle fleet. For all of them, take good care of our vehicles. They've served the nation well and we at NASA have a deep and abiding relationship and love affair with them that's hard to put into words."

When Endeavour's final mission ends later this month, the space shuttle will have traveled 115 million miles (184 kilometers) during 25 flights, carrying 139 people into orbit, according to NASA.

Endeavour 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, NASA said.

Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger shuttle, which blew up in the sky on Jan. 28, 1986.

Bolden gave no detailed information about when the shuttles would go on display. NASA tentatively planned to have them ready for delivery by early to mid-2012.

Rudolph said the CSC would soon announce a fundraising effort to help pay for the planned new center where the shuttle will be housed.

Preparing the shuttle for public display and transporting it would cost roughly 28 million to 29 million dollars, according to the center.

Rudolph said the center presented a strong case for landing one of the shuttles, noting that it is already home to a Mercury and Apollo modules.

Rudolph said the center shares "the same idea that NASA does, that air and space objects and science in general are critical to our nation's future and we can use objects like this to inspire millions of children to pursue their education in learning science." (PNA/Xinhua)

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