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.

Image via Lance Cheung Media

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.”

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