20 Sept. 2012 - NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Endeavour mounted atop arrived Sept. 20 at the agency's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Following an overnight stay, the SCA and Endeavour will salute the Edwards Air Force Base area early Friday, Sept. 21 with a low flyby northbound to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area. Next the aircraft will travel south, making a pass over NASA's Ames Research Center, Vandenberg Air Force Base and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory before heading into the Los Angeles area.
Finally, the SCA and Endeavour will land about noon PDT at Los Angeles International Airport, for an arrival ceremony before Endeavour is taken off the SCA and transported to its permanent home at the California Science Center next month.
The STS-135 astronauts got to take a look at the vehicle that carried them on the final space shuttle mission, and paused for a moment to reflect on the journey.
"Although we got to take the ride," said Commander Chris Ferguson on behalf of his crew, " we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked on, or touched, or looked at, or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us."
Following a poignant farewell ceremony by the crews of Atlantis and Expedition 28, hatches between the International Space Station and a space shuttle were closed for the final time at 10:28 a.m. EDT. The hatches between the spacecraft were open for seven days, 21 hours and 41 minutes. Atlantis' crew will spend the remainder of today preparing for Tuesday's early morning undocking. The station crew goes to sleep at 1:29 p.m. and the shuttle crew follows at 1:59 p.m.
Following a flawless rendezvous and docking, the hatches were opened and the members of STS-135, led by commander Chris Ferguson, were welcomed aboard the International Space Station by station commander Andrey Borisenko and his crew.