The California Science Center in Los Angeles is home to the space shuttle Endeavour. This is one of the four locations in the United States that have or will have space shuttle exhibits. It is very fitting that one of the shuttles would retire in Southern California since a lot of shuttle design, manufacturing and assembly work was done there.
The Endeavour’s first flight was May 7, 1992, and then went on to complete 25 missions. It made it’s final trip to the California Science Center in October 2012. As part of the exhibit you can view a fascinating time lapse film that documents the 64 hour trip from the Los Angeles International Airport though the streets of Los Angeles. At 122 feet in length and with a wingspan of 78 feet, this presented some challenges.
At the Science Center, Endeavour is housed in a temporary Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion of the museum. The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center is being constructed as its permanent home. There it will be displayed in a launch configuration, mounted vertically with the external fuel tank and a pair of solid rocket boosters attached.
One of the many interesting facets of the shuttle exhibit is the display of one of the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME’s). Each shuttle has 3 of the SSME’s and they are interchangeable between any of the shuttles. Until 1999, all of the SSME’s were built by Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, California, a suburb of LA in the nearby San Fernando Valley. A couple of the fun facts about the engines: 1.) The energy released by 3 SSME’s is equal to the output of 13 Hoover Dams. Have you seen the Hoover Dam? 2.) The engine fuel, liquid hydrogen, is the second coldest liquid on earth at 423 degrees below zero, but when burned with liquid oxygen, the temperature in the engine’s combustion chamber reaches over 6,000 degrees above zero.
The California Science Center is a very interesting place to visit, with a bent toward education for children that has fascinating interactive exhibits about the science behind the everyday world around us. The addition of the Endeavour is another must see attraction for this museum.