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Endeavour Hits Political Turbulence on Final Journey

Los Angeles science center makes amends for 400 trees felled
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2012 9:04 AM CDT
Endeavour Hits Political Turbulence on Final Journey
The space shuttle Endeavour, carried atop NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, passes over neighborhoods near Hobby Airport during a flyover on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Houston.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool, Pool)

(Newser) – Forget technical difficulties: It's politics that have posed a problem in Endeavour's last journey. The space shuttle has been soaring across the US in celebration of its 20 years and 122,883,151 miles. But the last 12 miles of its journey—through south Los Angeles on a 160-wheel carrier—are proving the toughest. That's because in order to move the hulking shuttle through the area (at 2mph), 400 trees had to be removed; they're a precious resource in the area, the New York Times reports.

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Locals are fuming over the decision, and some threatened lawsuits. "We would all like the space shuttle in Los Angeles; it’s a great asset," says a neighborhood council member. "But you don’t have to destroy the community to get the thing there, this disenfranchised community of color, which is just repeatedly disrespected." To make amends, the California Science Center—where the shuttle will now reside—has made a deal with locals: It will plant four trees for every one lost, repair sidewalks, pay for scholarships for local kids to join its summer camp, and employ local young people, all in a $2 million operation. (Read more Endeavour stories.)

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