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Space Shuttle Endeavour

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It is the coolest thing ever to stand directly under the Space Shuttle Endeavour and imagine what it was like to launch into space on 25 different missions!  She looks a little smaller than you’d think, and fairly worn from the many journeys through the atmosphere, but the magnitude of what she represents is truly awe-inspiring.  How many times do you get stand within a few feet of one of our civilization’s greatest accomplishments?

After completing her final mission in 2011, NASA selected The California Science Center  in Los Angeles, as the permanent home of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.  The Science Center is a fantastic place to visit, there are all kinds of exhibits on air and space, ecosystems with giant aquariums, micro-environments, and hands-on demonstrations.  The museum is totally FREE!  To see the Endeavour, there is a $2 fee, and reservations are recommended (for crowd control).  This is a perfect family outing, exhibits will captivate visitors of all ages.


Here the kids are entranced by a giant kelp forest, moray eels, schools of silvery fish and 3 species of SHARKS!

“Endeavour: The California Story” is the warm-up exhibit you go through before you see The Shuttle.  You can touch actual tires that were used with the landing gear, and see the galley where astronauts prepared their meals.  There is also the Rocketdyne Operations Support Center (ROSC) , which is set up exactly how it was when the engineers monitored the shuttle and kept in close contact with Mission Control in Huston.  But the coolest part of the exhibit was the space potty!  There is an actual potty, complete with handles for holding on and foot-straps.  The video that goes along with the demonstration explains everything, in charming detail.  I was chasing little kids through this part of the exhibit, so take a look at these links for pictures!

Just before you go to the Samuel Oschin Pavilion to see The Shuttle, you will watch a movie about how the Endeavor was flown to California and driven through the streets of Los Angeles.  Don’t miss this, it is very cool!  Now you are fully prepared and emotionally ready to head toward the temporary pavilion to see the Space Shuttle!

Walk through the doors of the hanger, and this is what you see…

Shuttle Endeavour 2

Very impressive.  As you can see it is raised up about 15 feet, so you can walk around and explore it from all sides.  This is your chance to really get to know such an important piece of our history.

USA Shuttle

The flag looks backward, but it is traditional to always have the blue facing the wind, as if it is on a flagpole and being blown by a breeze.

Space Shuttle

Here I am below the giant engines!

Endeavour Engine
I like to call this Endeavour’s “booty shot”.  These are still the most advanced and efficient engines in the world!

To complement Endeavour, the exhibit also contains artifacts and displays from throughout the Space Shuttle era.  Hanging along the perimeter walls are all of the U.S. missions into space.  It is an emotional walk through time.

Sally Ride

I stop my daughter at these two plaques.  I show her Sally Ride’s picture, and explain that she was the first woman in space.
My 4-year old little girl noticed how many pictures of missions we had already walked by, and just asked, “why?”

If you are old enough, you remember exactly where you were that day, and this plaque brings back all of those emotions.

Even though she is only 4, I also told my daughter what happened to the Challenger mission in 1986.  “All of these people died 73 seconds after take-off.”  She was sad, and asked about all the men and women in the photo.  I did my best to explain, especially about Christa McAuliffe, who was a teacher chosen for this special mission.  I wanted her to understand that even though we have all of this amazing equipment and technology to go out into space, it is still very dangerous, and we need to recognize the sacrifices that have been made.

Shuttle Display

There are lots of models created to demonstrate everything the Space Shuttles could do.  Here we are explaining to our 2-year old how the shuttle launches, and also how the payload doors open in space.

As I mentioned, this is the temporary exhibit for Endeavour.  The new building will have the shuttle upright, in the launch position, with boosters.  There will be a staircase that will spiral around The Shuttle, and I think you will get to peek inside some of the compartments… but that is a few years away.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
NASA has given California a special gift.  The Space Shuttle is breathtaking, and so are the hundreds of artifacts that go along with it.  The Kennedy Space Center in Florida is definitely the Big Daddy, but Los Angeles has put together an exhibit that is educational, inspiring and surprisingly emotional.

If you live in Southern California, or come for a visit, go see the Space Shuttle Endeavour!  The California Science Center is a great place to spend a day with your whole family (we had 3 generations with us!) and you can’t beat the price- FREE!   Make reservations to see Endeavour for only $2, see schedule for time slots. Parking is $10 (the lot is a bit of a walk).  This is the perfect outing for those rare, LA rainy days.  

Take a peek into my world of Eating, Gardening, Making and Mothering, authentically and with meaning. Thanks for visiting!
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