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Retired orbiter Endeavour will take its California landmark tour, but fog in Bay Area will delay liftoff. Angelenos should start to look up about 11:30 a.m.

September 21, 2012|Kate Mather and Ann M. Simmons
  • With the space shuttle Endeavour safely on the ground at Edwards Air Force Base, military family, friends and others get a look at the retired orbiter atop its transport plane.
With the space shuttle Endeavour safely on the ground at Edwards Air Force… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

With anticipation building for the space shuttle Endeavour's Southern California flyover, NASA officials are postponing the takeoff by one hour Friday morning because of fog in San Francisco.

The delay will "give us a better chance of having the fog burn off," NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center said in a tweet.

The new schedule calls for Endeavour to take off from Edwards Air Force Base in northern Los Angeles County at 8:15 a.m. instead of 7:15 a.m. That means Endeavour would fly over the Capitol in Sacramento at about 9:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m., before flying over San Francisco and Monterey.

The delay means the space shuttle would re-enter Los Angeles airspace around 11:30 a.m. and touching down about an hour later at Los Angeles International Airport.

Thousands are expected to watch the shuttle during its aerial tour of L.A. on Friday.

Endeavour will fly over the following landmarks:

* Los Angeles City Hall.

* The California Science Center near USC.

* The Getty Center.

* Griffith Observatory.

* The Queen Mary.

* The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

* Malibu, Venice and Huntington beaches.

* The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge.

* Universal Studios.

* Disneyland.

And barring any local weather issues, the view from the ground should be good. The shuttle will be flying as low as 1,500 feet above ground level.

The Griffith Observatory should be a popular spot to get a close-up glimpse and photographs of the shuttle with the city in the background.

With plenty of parking, a hilltop location and ample room for crowds, Universal CityWalk could also be a good observation point as the shuttle flies over Universal Studios.

The shuttle will also dip low over the California Science Center, the Exposition Park museum that will permanently house Endeavour and offers plenty of parking and grassy areas for seating.

In Long Beach, the parks that dot Shoreline Drive or Ocean Boulevard could be among the best places to see the shuttle as it passes over the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

And if you want to watch the shuttle land at LAX, El Segundo police are blocking off sections of Imperial Avenue for public viewing. Beginning at 9 a.m., police will close the 300 to 600 blocks of East Imperial Avenue and the 700 block of West Imperial Avenue to traffic, a stretch that includes Clutter's Park.

The space shuttle left Houston on Thursday morning, passed over Tucson, and landed Thursday afternoon at Edwards Air Force Base for an overnight fueling stop. A hearty collection of onlookers watched the landing.

Heather Hansen, 36, who teaches third grade at Westside Union School District in Palmdale, said she felt "butterflies and excitement" as she watched the shuttle drawing near.

"You want to run and do cartwheels with glee," Hansen said.

Hansen was one of about 40 people from around the country -- part of a so-called NASA social team -- who weathered the blistering heat and stood on a dusty dirt road along the runway.

As the modified 747 carrying Endeavour touched down at 12:50 p.m. PDT, the group grabbed their smartphones and began tweeting.

The chief pilot of the 747 shuttle carrier, Bill Brockett, said Thursday that he was "sad to see Endeavour retired and the shuttle fleet retired" but pleased to have had "the privilege to fly what will be the next-to-last flight of shuttle Endeavour."

"The air was smooth," Brockett said after safely landing at Edwards Air Force Base at 12:15 p.m. "We're glad it went as well as it did today."

His co-pilot Frank Batteas said retiring Endeavour was "bittersweet," but taking Endeavour on its farewell journey was "a highlight of my career."

Some officials have expressed concern that Friday's flyover will prompt some "gawking and driving" -- overzealous onlookers who might stop their cars along freeways or city streets to snap photos.

"Obviously we want people to take in this majestic show," Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Scott Kroeber said. "But if you're driving, please drive and don't try to take in the show simultaneously. We don't want this to be the mother of all distracted driving incidents."

--

kate.mather@latimes.com

ann.simmons@latimes.com

Times staff writer Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.

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