Pics: Space Shuttle Endeavour's Visit to Houston

Categories: NASA

Photo by Brittanie Shey
I am not one of those people who are good at estimating crowds, but if I had to guess, there were probably at least 10,000 people at Ellington Airport around 4 p.m. when I finally gave up on traffic, parked my car on Galveston Road and walked the mile or so to hangar 990 to see Space Shuttle Endeavour aboard the 747 ferry that will, tomorrow morning, take her to her final home in California.

I will admit, having never seen a space shuttle in real life before, that my eyes got a little misty.

Photo by Brittanie Shey
Despite the traffic, I feel like I got there at the right time. Traffic didn't get bad until after I exited 45 and hit Galveston Road. Once I made the trek across a field of knee-high grass, there was no line to get into the hangar area, and the crowd inside the barricade was shallow enough that I could walk right up to the barricade to see the space shuttle up close and personal. It looked somewhat well-worn, epsecially at the nose. It also looked totally dwarfed by the airplane below it. Those infamous heat shields were smaller than I imagined. Also, the flag on the right side, the side that faced the crowd, was backwards.

Photo by Brittanie Shey
An inexplicable number of people had brought their dogs. Not as many as those who had brought their children, though. And there were other things to do beside see the shuttle. NASA's mobile education lab was there, with a sign promising that kids could "touch a moonrock." There were banners by which to pose for photos, and Johnson Space Center had set up a makeshift gift shop selling T-shirts, coffee mugs and more.

Photo by Brittanie Shey
None of this did anything to lessen the underlying feeling that we were all attending a wake of sorts. The pulse of news helicopters overhead drowned out what little conversation it seemed people were having. Most I talked to had few words. The era of of the space shuttle is officially over.

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The flag isn't backwwards when the shuttle sits upright in a launching position.   Then the blue field sits  in the upper lefthand corner, as it's supposed to.

BrittanieShey moderator

 @Sihaya Actually, if you read the link, that's not why it's like that at all. Flags are painted the same way on airplanes, which don't sit upright on launch pads.

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