400 Mature Trees Felled To Make Way For Retired Endeavor Space Shuttle

The American space shuttle program has officially been retired. While it was in operation, most of us focused only on the beginning and the end of various missions. After all, unless you’re an astronaut, the most exciting part of a journey into space is the incredible take off, and the suspense of the landing. Very rarely do we think about what happens after a space shuttle has safely returned to Earth.

Several, like the Space shuttle Endeavour, have been relegated to museums and science centers so that the public can get up close and personal with these marvels of modern technology. However, recent news that 400 mature trees had to be cut down in order to allow the Endeavour to navigate the Los Angeles streets on the way to its new home have left some wondering if it’s really worth the trouble.

The average space shuttle (without the fuel tank) is over 120 feet from nose to tail, and weighs approximately 300,000 lbs. In order to ensure safe transport from the Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center 12 miles away, the city has decided to cut down any trees that might damage the shuttle. They say the long term benefits of having the Endeavour as a tourist attraction outweigh the costs of removing the trees.

While L.A. residents are excited to see the massive space craft lumbering through the streets right outside their doors, many are angered that so many trees will have to be sacrificed for such a brief journey. Although the California Science Center has agreed to replant twice as many trees as they will cut down, some people say the loss can never be recovered.

“They are cutting down these really big, majestic trees,” said Lark Galloway-Gilliam, a longtime Leimert Park resident and neighborhood council director told the L.A. Times. “It will be beyond my lifetime before they will be tall like this again.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply September 6, 2012


    Technical Data for the Orbiter Endeavor
    The length is 37.2 m or 122.1 ft and the wingspan is 23.7 m (equal to
    78 ft). Its height is 17.8 m (58.38 ft) and the empty weight is 162,000
    lbs (78,000 kg).

    The orbiter is transported not the Space Shuttle which consists of external tank and two booster rockets.

    Author omitted the fact that there is no way to transport 4,470,000 lbs in one piece by air or road.

    • Reply September 6, 2012


      Hi Doc- thanks for the corrections. I failed to realize that the dimensions I found were the pre-launch shuttle, and not just the orbiter itself. Still pretty big, and still sad for the trees, though.

  • Reply September 6, 2012

    Class No More

    So sad to see mature trees cut down, sorta like sawing my grandma in half, sad…

  • Reply September 6, 2012

    John Cepelak

    Considering how smoggy LA is , cutting down 400 carbon removing trees seems like a long tern travesty for a short term anticipated solution. Money wins out over other things here, really too bad as this might come back to bite the Los Angelinos later.

  • Reply September 6, 2012


    The typical mature tree will consume approximately 13 pounds of CO2 annually. 400 trees would therefore remove 2.6 tons of CO2 from LA air over the course of one year. The typical person in the US generates about 2.3 tons of CO2 over the course of a year. Collectively, those 400 trees being cut down barely cancelled out one LA resident per year. This sort of contribution makes no noticeable impact on LA’s carbon budget considering the amount of drivers (easily in the hundreds of thousands) that are generating the CO2. While every little bit helps, the environmental impact of this truly is negligible (especially considering that twice as many trees are being planted in their stead). Shade and aesthetics are the only things that will have actually been affected in any meaningful way, and even then it’s picking at details.

    • Reply September 6, 2012


      Also property values. And I don’t think it’s ridiculous to be upset that 50-100 year old trees are being sacrificed for a 30 min trip. All deforestation is bad, even small scale. Scaled up, I think that reasoning is dangerous.

      • Reply September 7, 2012


        I agree that cutting down trees, when scaled up, has the potential for harm. However, I think you are missing three key points. First, the shuttle isn’t going to be passing through LA everyday, so ‘deforestation for retired shuttle transportation’ has no potential to scale up. Second, the revenues from taxes brought in by tourist attractions, such as the shuttle, fund government organizations like the Parks and Recreation Services (which are responsible for the conservation of the kind of acreage that actually makes a difference to the carbon budget). Third, and most obvious, they’re planting twice as many trees as they are cutting down! Therefore, the ridiculously tiny effect on the environment that this over-hyped move is going to have is only temporary.

        All in all, the long term benefits of tourist income coupled with the inspirational effect that a landmark piece of human engineering like this has outweigh the short term, negligibly small dip in the carbon budget. If you really care about the environment, consider the amount of water used and trash generated during a typical football game, and compare that to the effect that moving the shuttle is going to have.

        • Reply September 8, 2012

          James McCuen

          In terms of taxes, “trickle down” theory doesn’t always work. Any increased tourism taxes collected from hotel occupancy and sales taxes in LA will be used to offset chronic budget deficits approaching $200 million not counting pension and infrastructure issues.

          Also the leaders of LA had the brilliance of using your “trickle down economics” theory and use tax waivers for some of the new hotels such as the Wilshire Grand and JW Marriot. This corporate welfare scheme just leaves LA in more debt and with no way to think about funding (with the additional tourism taxes) additional parks or open space.

    • Reply September 8, 2012

      James McCuen

      Some other items to consider:
      The energy required to cut down, grind, and haul away the trees. Much of this equipment is fossil fuel fired (gas or diesel fuel).

      The “offset” of increased tourism brings about a dramatic increase in green house gases since the majority of those will be using automobiles, not public transit.

      Therefore the environmental impact of retiring one of the shuttles to Los Angeles is much greater than just isolating the “removal” of 400 trees.

  • Reply September 6, 2012


    …not to fly again??? then cut off one wing…truck it and wing…put bandaid on it…not required to be flyable again…just look pretty …with 400 mature saved trees around it …

  • Reply September 7, 2012


    Have they never heard of helicopter or blimp airlift? They done whole houses before.

  • Reply September 7, 2012


    They are in LA right near Pasadena, a place that has had Rose Parades forever. Did it occur to them that maybe they might talk to one of the engineers who have piloted huge floats down Colorado Blvd how they might do this without felling 400 trees! I don’t plan on visiting the Endeavor ever because of this! They feel as though this tourist attraction money will outweigh the cost of the trees! What a bunch of neanderthals!

    • Reply October 14, 2012


      No, I’m sure they never thought of that.
      NASA engineers are stupid.
      If I was you, I would apply to the JPL immediately. They need you.
      (BTW, that was sarcasm)

  • Reply September 17, 2012

    Tracy F Morrison

    This is a sad day in history. Why turn Manchester & Crenshaw into Concrete Jungles? Why tear down instead of building up. There is no way that $500,000 can replace 400 trees and tend them to maturity. What about the watering systems for the young trees. They will destroy and leave. Just a bunch of crock.

  • Reply September 18, 2012


    I’ve now lost All faith in mankind. I can not believe that they are cutting down 400 mature trees in Los Angeles for this horse and pony show “Shuttle”. Sure they are going to replant 1600 trees but what about the impact Now to all the animals, and our enviroment. again money before our planet, animals and people. Pay back is going to be a bitch one day and we will have no reason to cry becouse we did it to ourself.

  • Reply September 21, 2012

    Liz Espinosa

    will do wonders for the winter mudslides…

  • Reply September 24, 2012


    thx for info for class

  • Reply September 24, 2012


    What is wrong with the world? one tree can save 100’s of creatures, so 400? THEM BITCHES!!!!!!!

  • Reply September 24, 2012


    this was BORRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply September 24, 2012

    young money

    they so stupid they dont know what they doing to the animal tha was there

  • Reply October 12, 2012


    I don’t know why I was so angry to hear about the felling of 400 trees for the transport of the of the stupid shuttle. Well, actually, 2 huge silver maples were taken down in my front yard (by the city) a couple of years ago and I wanted to cry. I felt as if human lives were being taken. I’ve missed them ever since. So, I can’t imagine the destruction of 400 mature trees.

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