NASA hands over keys to space shuttle Endeavour

NASA officially signed over the ownership of Endeavour, its youngest space shuttle, to the California Science Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, setting the stage for the retired spaceship's delivery to the museum next year.

Space agency officials handed over Endeavour's title during a ceremony at the science center and plan to deliver the space shuttle in the second half of 2012.

"NASA is pleased to share this wonderful orbiter with the California Science Center to help inspire a new generation of explorers," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "The next chapter in space exploration begins now, and we're standing on the shoulders of the men and women of the shuttle program to reach farther into the solar system."

The California Science Center is one of four institutions across the country selected by Bolden to serve as the permanent home for NASA's space shuttle vehicles. Bolden announced his decision on April 12 of this year, the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch in 1981.

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