L.A.’s newest ‘attraction’
packs learning with fun
The retired space shuttle Endeavour sits atop giant tubes at its temporary home at the California Science Center near downtown Los Angeles. Click image to enlarge © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THE RETIRED SPACE SHUTTLE Endeavour is drawing throngs of enthralled visitors this summer at its new home near downtown Los Angeles.
Perched in temporary quarters aopt a giant tube frame, Endeavour (spelled the British way) is proving to be as popular as Disneyland, but much better value for money. It is one of only three remaining historic space ‘tugs’
It is housed in the California Science Center in Exposition Park, adjacent to the University of Southern California campus, five minutes from downtown.
I first saw the shuttle from the rooftop at the college where I work in Pasadena on its flyby on the way to Los Angeles international Airport in October. A few weeks later friends and I saw the exhibit.
I visited again on Monday morning to get the scoop.
Watch video below the fold.
Larry Vaughn of Downey, Calif., climbs down from the flight simulator after his “ride” aboard Endeavour to the Hubble Space Telescope on Monday morning. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
This is from the Science Center’s web site:
“While we are building Endeavour’s permanent home, a new addition to the Science Center called the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center Endeavour can be viewed in the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion.”
One of the first exciting immersion experiences offered is a trip aboard the flight simulator. “Climb aboard a state-of-the-art motion simulation experience … Join our crew of brave astronauts on the flight deck of Endeavour and blast off into space,” says the pamphlet nearby.
As I approached, just exiting the simulator after his “trip” was Larry Vaughn of Downey, Calif., and his three grandchildren.
“They took the Endeavour through a launch and up to fix the Hubble Space Telescope,” he related. “It was a total immersion ride. There were lots of bumps. The takeoff and landing were true to life.”
Part of the exhibit titled Endeavour: The California Story, this section celebrates Endeavour’s many scientific achievements and its strong connection to California, where all the orbiters were built.
“The California Story includes images of Endeavour under construction locally in Palmdale and Downey, (Vaughn’s home town) as well as artifacts that flew into space aboard Endeavour,” the web site says.
Next up was one of the most popular exhibits: the space toilet. Gasp! Do polite people even think about bodily functions?
“The space potty, or Waste Collection System, provided a high-tech solution to one of space travel’s most pressing concerns,” according to the web site.
While the view from the front is impressive enough, the tail section of Endeavour containing the three massive engines is an awesome sight. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
The real jaw-dropping moment, comes, however, when one enters the cavernous display pavilion.
Imagine standing under the nose wheel of a Jumbo Jet (atop which the shuttle rides when it is not flying under its own power). The sensation is similar.
Endeavor, officially known by NASA as “OV (Orbital Vehicle) 105” was launched May 7, 1992.
According to NASA, Endeavour was named after a ship chartered to traverse the South Pacific in 1768 and captained by 18th century British explorer James Cook, an experienced seaman, navigator and amateur astronomer. He commanded a crew of 93 men, including 11 scientists and artists.
While the view from the front is impressive enough, the rear – with its three giant engines, each almost big enough to park a Cadillac inside – is truly mind-boggling.
Mike Hammerott and his 10-year-old son Hunter, both from Tucson, examine one to the Endeavour’s massive engines near the tail section of the shuttle on Monday at the California Science Center. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mike Hammerott and his 10-year-old son Hunter were examining one of the engines on display near the tail.
“It’s awesome,” Hammerott said. A student of robotics and animation, he said he had seen the shuttle when it flew atop a 747 over his home in Tucson, Ariz., on its way to California. “So we just had to see it while we’re here (in Los Angeles),” he explained. “It’s spectacular.”
A little philosophical, he regretted that the shuttle no longer is in service: “Without something like this, the human race goes nowhere,” he said, without ambiguity.
Well a visit to the Endeavour at its new resting place is better than nothing. It certainly beats a trip to Disneyland.
Watch a video of Endeavour’s trip through LA by Lasmeniasfilms.
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