LOS ANGELES, Calif.--The California Science Center became the official owner of the space shuttle Endeavour today at a title-transfer signing ceremony attended by the astronauts who were aboard the shuttle on its final mission this summer.
The center will become the retirement home of the shuttle, which traveled 115 million miles during 25 flights.
"Please don't scratch it," shuttle Cmdr. Mark Kelly joked to the crowd attending the ceremony at the Science Center.
NASA announced in April that the Endeavour would be permanently housed at the Science Center--returning the shuttle to the state where it was built more than 20 years ago.
Endeavour was built in Palmdale, beginning in 1987, to replace the destroyed Challenger shuttle, which exploded 73 seconds after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986. Endeavour was completed in 1991.
Science Center officials said the shuttle would become the centerpiece of its new air and space gallery. The center has already begun a $200 million fundraising campaign to pay for the decommissioning of the shuttle, transporting it to California and providing a museum to house it.
An exact timetable for bringing the shuttle to Los Angeles has not yet been set.
Kelly, the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was joined at today's ceremony by fellow Endeavour astronauts Michael Fincke, Gregory Johnson, Roberto Vittori and Andrew Feustel, along with actress June Lockhart of the classic television series "Lost in Space."
"Isn't it wonderful to have a mode of transportation that when the pink slip is turned over, it does not lose value when you take it off the lot," she joked.
The space shuttle Discovery will be retired at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, while Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center visitors' complex in Florida and Enterprise will be at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.