Space Shuttle Pays Tribute to Gabby Giffords

Flies Low Over Tucson To Honor Support for Space Program

getty images

By Reuters

Published September 20, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

The space shuttle Endeavour honored wounded ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Thursday at the tail end of a cross-country trip to Los Angeles to begin its final mission as a museum exhibit.

The specially modified Boeing 747 with the newly retired spaceship perched on its back touched down safely at 12:50 p.m. local time (3:50 p.m. EDT) at Edwards, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert.

Ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
getty images
Ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

NASA retired its shuttle fleet last year after completing the U.S. portion of the $100 billion International Space Station, a permanently staffed research complex that is owned by 15 nations and orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

Endeavour embarked on its last cross-county “ferry” journey on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and made several low-altitude passes over NASA centers in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas before stopping for the night at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The trip resumed early on Thursday, with Endeavour and its carrier jet making additional flyovers - one over Tucson, Arizona, in a salute to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut who commanded Endeavour’s final flight on his last mission in late May 2011.

Giffords, still recuperating from a gunshot wound to the head suffered in an attempt on her life last year, watched the flyover from the roof of a Tucson parking garage with her husband and mother, according to former aide C.J. Karamargin, who joined them.

“When it came into view, Mark said, ‘There’s my plane!’” Karamargin recounted. “Gabby was just elated, hooting and hollering like the rest of us were.”

From Arizona, Endeavour and its carrier jet flew on to California, where the spacecraft was built two decades ago, for the landing at Edwards Air Force Base.

The sprawling installation used to serve as the primary landing site for NASA’s shuttle program before the space agency built a landing facility for the orbiters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Edwards then became the principal backup landing spot for shuttles in case of bad weather at Cape Canaveral.

Endeavour made seven landings at Edwards during its active tenure at NASA, most recently in November 2008.

FINAL FLIGHT

The shuttle was scheduled to depart Edwards on Friday for its very last ferry flight, and the final airborne journey of the entire space shuttle fleet, headed for Los Angeles International Airport.

The 75-ton (68-tonne) winged spacecraft will then undergo preparations to be moved next month through city streets from the airport to its permanent home at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, where the shuttle will be put on public display starting Oct. 30.

To make way for the mammoth orbiter along its 12-mile (19 km) route to the museum, crews are cutting down nearly 400 trees, raising overhead utility wires and temporarily removing hundreds of utility poles, street lights and traffic signals. The science center has agreed to plant 1,000 new trees to replace those slated for removal.

Endeavour was built as a replacement for Challenger, the shuttle lost in a 1986 launch accident that killed seven astronauts. It went on to fly 25 missions, including 12 to build and outfit the space station, and logged nearly 123 million miles (198 million km) in flight during 4,671 orbits.

Endeavour is the second of NASA’s three surviving shuttles to be sent to a museum. Discovery, NASA’s oldest surviving shuttle, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington.

Atlantis, which flew NASA’s 135th and final shuttle mission in July 2011, will be towed down the road to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in November.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.