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Countdown to Endeavor's final departure from Kennedy Space Center

EndeavorAtlantis
As space shuttle Endeavor is being prepped for its final trip — to Los Angeles, where it will go on display at the California Science Center — consider its vital statistics: 25 missions, 299 days in space, 122,883,151 miles traveled, and 133 astronauts carried.

On Sept. 17, Endeavor will begin its flight to California on the back of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a specially designed Boeing 747. Kennedy Space Center is offering special tours in advance of the departure and special seating to watch the takeoff.

On Sept. 14 and 15, the Endeavor Bus Tour will drive by the mate-demate device as the shuttle is being mated to the aircraft; it will also drive by Launch Pad 39-A, from which most shuttle missions were launched. Cost is $20 ($14 children) in addition to admission to the center.

On Sept. 17, visitors can watch the takeoff and fly-over of Endeavor from the shuttle launch facility at about 7:30 a.m.; seats are $40 (plus admission). They can also watch the fly-over from the Rocket Garden of Kennedy Space Center or the live NASA broadcast in the center’s IMAX theater at no extra charge above regular admission ($50 adult/$40 child ages 3-11).

The public also can see the departure from outside Kennedy Space Center. The aircraft carrying Endeavor will fly over various parts of the Space Coast at about 1,500 feet above the ground, said Michael Curie, a NASA spokesman.

For tickets and information, click here or call 877-313-2610.

Endeavor is the last of the shuttles to depart for a permanent home in a museum. The Enterprise is in the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, and Discovery is at Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Atlantis will remain at Kennedy Space Center, where it will go on display in the summer of 2013 in a building now under construction. 

Photo: Space shuttles Atlantis (L) and Endeavour face each other as Endeavour backs out of the Orbiter Processing Facility and Atlantis is moved out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on Aug. 16. Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

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