The #1 attraction at the California Science Center is the Endeavor space shuttle, and we highly recommend a trip to check out this national treasure. Here is what you may expect!
The Journey: Last October, the space shuttle was transported at 2 miles per hour across Los Angeles to its final home at the Science Center. Given the speed capability of this plane, it’s a wonder that the Endeavour’s journey to the Science Center took so long. Crowds of fans thronged the street in the wee hours of the morning. Here’s a story about the shuttle’s historic trip, including quotes from Mayor Villaraigosa about his hopes for the exhibit to inspire a new generation of astronauts and scientists.
The Exhibit: Start your tour on the second floor of the museum—just follow the signs that point towards the Endeavour. A friendly staff member will guide you in to a room full of information about the space shuttle’s history. One of the first things you’ll see is a fantastic digital arrangement of every Endeavour takeoff created by McLean Fahenstock. Just across the way, learn how space shuttle tires are tested and able to withstand the pressure of landing.
Keep on the lookout for videos featuring real astronauts who give visitors the inside scoop on living in space; topics range from cooking to using the bathroom… things can get more complicated than you might expect in zero gravity! You’ll see what the actual mission control base looked like and discover how it works. And, at the back of the room, don’t miss the actual Rocketdyne Operations Support Center equipment used to monitor every shuttle launch.
Before you go see the actual shuttle, you should absolutely take a simulated flight through space. Be sure to watch the video that chronicles the Endeavour’s fascinating journey across town to it’s home at the Science Center.
The Main Attraction: The shuttle itself is located just downstairs in a separate area all its own. You may very well be surprised at the actual size of the shuttle; it tends to look significantly smaller in video footage. Take your time to wander around and see all there is to see, including a history of every NASA space mission of the Challenger, Discover, and Endeavour. Every sign has a piece of interesting information. For example, did you know that each tile used to construct the shuttle cost up to $2000? Each one is designed to withstand a specific temperature. The Endeavour was also the first orbiter to use a drag chute, now a standard device to take pressure off breaks when landing.
Visiting Tips: The Science Center has recently begun to advise visitors to purchase their tickets to see the Endeavor in advance. Although crowds vary by day, the Science Center is a hotspot for summer camps and field trips, so buying tickets at least the night before your visit to reserve a time isn’t a bad idea. They’re only $2, and can be purchased here. Access to everything else at the Science Center (except for an IMAX movie) is open to the public for free.