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US space shuttle Endeavour heads to museum

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Endeavour and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in Houston after leaving Kennedy Space Center for the last time. A NASA photo

CAPE CANAVERAL (AP): The US space shuttle Endeavour began a journey to its new life as a museum piece Wednesday, heading west on the last ferry flight of its kind as NASA shuts down its shuttle programme.

Bolted to the top of a jumbo jet, the space agency's youngest shuttle departed Kennedy Space Center in Florida at sunrise on the first leg of its flight to California.

Crowds lined the beaches of Cape Canaveral as the shuttle swooped low overhead in one final show.

"I am feeling a tremendous amount of pride," said astronaut Kay Hire, who flew aboard Endeavour two years ago.

Endeavour flew 25 times in space before retiring last year. It circled Earth more nearly 4,700 times.

Endeavour will make it as far as Houston, home to Mission Control, before arriving in Los Angeles on Friday. In mid-October, it will be transported very slowly down city streets to the California Science Center.

This is the last flight for a space shuttle. Atlantis will remain at Kennedy for display. Discovery is at the Smithsonian Institution.

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