Los Angeles’s very own Space Shuttle on display at Exhibition Park.
And yes, I just told you how old I am.
It was particularly rough because my AP Science Teacher was a friend of Christa McAuliffe, who died in the explosion.
On top of that my best friend’s Dad worked for NASA, and I got to look at the (very declassified) Shuttle Manifest, with all the glorious plans for the first fifty or so missions for the shuttle.
Of course, that was back in 1980…and the schedule was pretty much blown by the second launch…
Still the old girl means something to me. But when I learned Los Angeles was getting a Shuttle, I didn’t really react that strongly. In fact it was a bit of a shock to me that the City shut itself down as much as it did. First during the massive flyover over all of Los Angeles.
We actually shut down at work for an hour and a half to watch it fly by. We didn’t get the best view in the world, but we got a good one.
Then came the massive drive from LAX to the California Science Center, which turned out to be more of a party than I think the city was prepared for.
Which finally brought the Endeavor to the California Science Center. It’s been housed in it’s own very temporary steel building (aka, the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center) until it’s permanent display is completed, where Endeavor will be stood up, and placed on the back of it’s old Booster Rocket and the Solid Fuel Tank. From there we’ll be able to walk up and down it’s length and get a good look at it.
Right now, you get to see it lying flat, almost close enough to touch…
…but please, don’t touch.
You get a good three-hundred and sixty degree view of the Shuttle. You’re able to walk all around it. As of everything else in the Oschin Center…well, that’s about it. There’s an engine display, and a list of all the shuttle missions circling around the walls…and of course a Gift Shop aiming at the kids.
I have to say, it was a very emotional experience seeing Endeavor. Part of it was walking the length of the Mission descriptions, and seeing the Challenger disaster, as well as the loss of Columbia. It brought a tear to my eye. Just looking up at the old girl, knowing that she’ll never fly again, it was more than a little heartbreaking.
But it feels like they’re taking good care of her, and more to the point there is and was a lot of love for Endeavor as she was wheeled through Los Angeles.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Getting in, is the tricky part. It only costs two bucks per ticket, but when you go matters. If you go on a weekday, there’s a possibility you can buy tickets the same day and get in.
Once you arrive at the Science Center (for whom admission is free), they regiment when you get into see the Shuttle. Your ticket is connected to a time. Make sure you get in line in plenty of time before you’re scheduled to go in. That’s more of a thing for the Weekends, when demand to see Endeavor is at it’s highest. On the weekdays, it’s a bit different. I had tickets for 1:15, arrived at 11:30 and was allowed right on in. No line. No waiting. No muss. No fuss.
PARKING: This will be the most expensive part of your trip, but at least it’s easy. Exhibition Park has a Parking Structure hugged up right against the California Science Center. It costs ten bucks to get in. If it’s full, there is a second lot on the other side of the Park, near the Natural History Museum. It’s the same price. It’s also a touch further away from the museum, but they’ll have spots.
You can try parking on the street, but…why? The neighborhood around Exhibition Park isn’t particularly dangerous, but you may not feel 100% safe leaving your car on the street, given the traffic and the who-knows-what parking regulations around there. Just pay the ten bucks and be done with it.