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Thursday, November 01, 2012

Endeavour in the streets of LA

We traveled to L.A. to watch the "Endeavour Parade" as the Space Shuttle Endeavour was transported along city streets from LAX all the way to Exposition Park and the California Science Center, a 15 mile journey that was planned to take almost two full days.  We got to L.A. on Friday morning and Endeavour left LAX around 2 AM.  We found a busy city with closed streets but found a parking spot along a street one block from Manchester Avenue not far from LAX where it was schedule to roll past around 2PM in the afternoon after a stop to reconfigure the transporter.  We found our viewing site at Wiley Post and Manchester.  The crowds grew and finally, we could see the tail of the orbiter appear and it slowly moved past us at 2 mph.  This view was taken with my 24mm lens with an exposure f/9 and 1/400 seconds at ISO 100.

As it slowly passed us, I was able to change lenses and get some closeups of the orbiter which flew 25 missions into space.  The thermal blankets used around the upper part of the fuselage around the cockpit show their structure as well as the wear and tear of flying to and from space.  This image was taken with my 75-300mm telephoto at 190mm focal length with an exposure of 1/800 seconds at f/9, ISO 100.

Another closeup of the tiles on the side of the orbiter shows the streaking on the black tiles due to re-entry heating on the tiles.  You can also see that each of the tiles had an identification number printed on it.  This image was taken at 300mm focal length with an exposure of 1/100 seconds at f/9, ISO 100.

"Cut Her for Emergency Rescue" was happily never used but this shows rescue personnel where an area of the cockpit designed to be cut through more easily was so they could access the crew compartment if needed.  You can also see the serial numbers on the thermal blankets and the stitching in them.  This image was taken at 300mm focal length with an exposure of 1/500 seconds at f/9, ISO 100.

The nose of the Endeavour housed the forward Reaction Control System engines that were used to orient the orbiter in space as well as to make fine adjustments to its velocity.  In front of the RCS is the grey colored nose cape that had to withstand some of the highest temperatures on the orbiter during its re-entry into the Earths atmosphere.  The entire RCS module could be removed for servicing between missions if needed.  The RCS used hypergolic propellants that would ignite when the fuel and oxydizer came into contact - a reliable but rather difficult fuel to use.  This image was taken at 75mm focal length with an exposure of 1/160 seconds at f/9, ISO 100.