Image: NASA T-38 jets fly over space shuttle Endeavour
Two NASA T-38 jets fly over space shuttle Endeavour in 2009. A NASA T-38 and F-18 jet will fly over Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 2012, to scout photo ops for Endeavour's California arrival in September.
updated 8/25/2012 12:14:43 PM ET 2012-08-25T16:14:43

NASA is deploying a few high-flying paparazzi to Hollywood to scout out the best photo spots for next month's arrival of one of its biggest stars: space shuttle Endeavour.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, tickets have just gone on sale for the public to stake out their own photo ops to see Endeavour as it departs its Florida spaceport for the final time. Endeavour, which flew 25 times to space, is being ferried to Los Angeles for display at the California Science Center.

On Saturday, two NASA jets — a T-38 astronaut trainer and an F-18 Hornet — will circle the skies over Los Angeles at an altitude of approximately 1,500 feet. The jet flights, which are in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, have been described by NASA as only "to capture photographic imagery."

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But it's no secret that the aircraft are part of the advance entourage for Endeavour. The retired orbiter, flying atop the space agency's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, is scheduled to land at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Sept. 20.

Before touching down, the jumbo jet carrying Endeavour is expected to make several scenic flyovers of the L.A. area, setting up the possibility for some iconic shots to be taken of the shuttle soaring past famous landmarks like the Hollywood sign. Saturday's jet flights will scope out the best flight paths to capture those photos. [ Photos: How Shuttle Endeavour Was Made ]

NASA photographers embarked on a similar set of flights before Endeavour's older sister, space shuttle Discovery, arrived in Washington, D.C. in April. Two T-38 training jets were dispatched to the nation's capital to plot the shuttle's path, which later led to photos of Discovery flying past the Capitol Building, Washington Monument, White House and other historic landmarks.

Fly-out photo ops
Details on when, where and how to see Endeavour arrive in Los Angeles have not yet been announced, nor have any of the potential flyover locations along the shuttle's trip from Florida to California. Tickets however, went on sale Friday to see Endeavour depart its launch and landing site for a final time.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will host four days of activities leading up to the scheduled takeoff of Endeavour atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on Sept. 17 at approximately 7:30 a.m. EST (1200 GMT).

With general admission, the public can view the space shuttle ferry flight as it passes over the visitor complex. A limited number of $40 tickets (in addition to the general admission) will take guests out to NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), for a runway-side seat to view Endeavour take off on its ferry flight to California.

The Visitor Complex is also offering a $20 tour (in addition to the general admission) on Sept. 14 and 15 that will offer guests a "windshield view" of Endeavour as it is mated to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The special tour will also drive by Endeavour's launch pads.

Other activities include a chance to see Endeavour's final astronauts, the crew of the 2011 STS-134 mission, during their visit to the visitor complex.  

Final ferry flight
Endeavour is the last of NASA's retired shuttles to take to the air.

In April, the fleet leader Discovery and the prototype test orbiter Enterprise were ferried to Washington, D.C. and New York City, respectively. Atlantis, which is destined for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, will be moved the short distance over land in November.

Endeavour will embark on a similar, if not longer road trip once in Los Angeles. For two days beginning on Oct. 12, the shuttle will be paraded atop a modified NASA wheeled transporter through the streets of Inglewood and L.A.

By dusk on Oct. 13, Endeavour is expected to be inside the California Science Center's newly constructed Samuel Oschin Display Pavilion.

Endeavour's exhibit will open to the public on Oct. 30. The pavilion is a temporary display however, as the science center plans to ultimately house Endeavour in its planned Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, targeted to open in 2017.

For its permanent display, Endeavour will be mounted as it was on the launch pad with side-mounted rockets and a replica of its external tank. In preparation for that exhibit, a pair of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters were sent to Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, where they will be held until the science center is ready.

The two 149-foot-long boosters were previously on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, from where they were trucked to California.

For more information or to reserve viewing tickets, see the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's website. See for continuing coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.

An earlier version of this story cited an incorrect date for Endeavour's arrival inside the Samuel Oschin Display Pavilion. Follow collectSPACE on Facebook and Twitter @ collectSPACE and editor Robert Pearlman @ robertpearlman. Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.

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Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

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  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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