Space shuttle Endeavour spent 299 days in space, but its final mission will be much closer to earth.
Endeavour's piggy-back flight through the Bay Area Friday morning is expected to be done at the extremely low level of 1,500 feet. That will make for a noisy morning along the Peninsula. NASA told NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro Thursday that the plane may go even lower than 1,500 feet.
NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View is expecting as many as 10,000 people to come out to watch it from the tarmac. They are telling folks to bring hearing protection, because the flyover is expected to be extremely loud.
Donald James at the NASA research center says it is a once in a lifetime event and an emotional good-bye for him personally.
Mountain View scientists have trained shuttle astronauts, developed the shuttle design and they created the heat shield.
"We feel here at Ames this is the cradle the birth place for where the shuttle was developed and grew up so we're proud. Its gonna come back and pay tribute to the workers at Ames," James said.
NASA Ames designs are credited with improving everything from medical devices to computers to race cars.
Prior to Moffett, the plane-shuttle combo will make a pass of the Golden Gate Bridge. That's means any bluff along the mouth of the Bay, as well as Crissy Field are expected to be busy in the morning.
Other suggested viewing locations include:
- The Bay Area Discovery Museum
- Chabot Space and Science Center
- The Exploratorium
- Lawrence Hall of Science
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
For those who can't make it out, Ames plans to webcast the flyover online at www.ustream.tv/user/nasaames. NBC Bay Area also plans a livestream.
Today, the shuttle hitched a ride from Texas to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California.
After the Endeavour buzzes the Bay Area, it will head down the coast with several flybys of Los Angeles hot spots. The finally landing is scheduled before noon at Los Angeles International Airport.
Endeavour will be then be unhooked from the 747 at LAX, and crews at a United Airlines hangar will prepare the shuttle for transport -- a 12-mile trip along Los Angeles streets to the Science Center. It is expected to arrive at the Science Center on Oct. 13 and go on display Oct. 30 in the Science Center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion.
Endeavour completed 25 missions and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles, according to NASA.
As for weather concerns - they are looking better, according to NBC Bay Area meteorologist Rob Mayeda. Mayeda said the skies were clear Thursday morning. He credits drier air from the north that works like a fan and pushes away the clouds.
Below is a time-lapse that shows the mating process that brought Endeavour to the top of the Boeing 747.