POSTED: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 10:19am
UPDATED: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 6:16pm
EL PASO — Space shuttle Endeavour made a stop in El Paso before making its way to retirement in California Thursday morning.
The shuttle and it's carrier stopped at Biggs Army Airfield just before 8am on its way from Houston to refuel.
"It's very special to see the folks that come out to see it and appreciate the program," said Henry Taylor, a flight engineer for the shuttle's carrier plane.
The shuttle made 25 missions since it was first introduced in 1992 and logged more than 120 million miles in space during it's time in service.
The shuttle is the youngest in NASA's fleet and was built to replace the Challenger after it's accident in 1986 which killed 7 astronauts.
Taylor had been a part of flying the shuttle since the very beginning.
"I was on it's very first flight when we carried Endeavour from Palmdale," Taylor said. "It's kind of appropriate that I would start doing it's first flight and it's last flight."
While refueling, several people got a chance to board the carrier and explore the modified 747 jet plane.
Most of the seats in the 1970's airliner have been removed and the plane has been reinforced to evenly distribute the shuttle's weight.
The future of the carrier is up in the air.
"Once we're done we're going to take it back to Edwards Air Force Base and we'll see what happens from there but right now there's no future missions," said Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Pilot Bill Rieke.
Rieke said he was glad to be a part of history.
"I'm very thankful to be in this position ay the right place at the right time to do this," Rieke said. "It is certainly an honor to be able to represent this airplane and the professional people throughout the NASA."
Ivan Armendariz also understands the magnitude of this moment in history.
"It's a great opportunity for us to say it landed before it went on to the museum," Armendariz said. "So getting the opportunity is just amazing."