Space Shuttle Endeavour

Each year the Smithsonian magazine treats the public to a wonderful day (called Museum Day Live!) of free museum admission around the country. Of course if you’re in the DC area, you have this gift every day from all of the Smithsonian museums. I wish all museums around the world were free so that more families can afford to enjoy them, but I’ll be the first in line to support any nonprofit entity that educates young or old minds and that sparks my imagination.

So this year on Sept 28 I went to the California Science Center at Exposition Park near the USC campus in downtown LA.

It’s the new home of the recently retired space shuttle Endeavour. The museum itself offers free admission to the numerous permanent exhibits but the viewing of the Endeavour requires a timed ticket. The Air and Space Exhibits are extremely interesting, especially if space is the true final frontier you want to explore. And by you I mean me:

Though I must say the one video they had about training astronauts how to use the toilets in the shuttle just pretty much kiboshed the whole idea of space travel for me! But you know, every time I see one of these suits,

I just wonder would I ever be so lucky as to experience space tourism in my lifetime? Just one quick walk on Mars?

Weightlessness and danger issues notwithstanding, it’s impossible to not get inspired looking at the replica of mission control…

and reading about the stellar history of the US and international space programs…

Brave people took flights of faith (yes, calculated risks but risks nevertheless in all of these missions) into space so that we could demystify some of the unknown out there. Some may wonder why we seek these answers at all, but I suppose people asked the same of Christopher Columbus and Lewis and Clark back in their days.

The Endeavour is currently parked in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion while its actual home is under construction. It completed 25 space missions since its inaugural launch on May 7, 1992. It was made in California and has traveled 122,883,151 miles. Its final voyage was completed in June of 2011 at the helm of Commander Mark Kelly (husband of the former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who survived a gunshot to the head in 2011). On October 11, 2011 NASA transferred title and ownership of the shuttle to the California Science Center. This is one big invoice:

All of LA came out to welcome the Endeavour’s arduous 68-hour crawl home through city streets…

If you have a few hours to spare visiting my great city, come see the Endeavour.

Come stand below its magnificent belly,

walk around its weathered hardware,

and let your imagination soar. One day…


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