Last September the Space Shuttle Endeavour had its final flight, atop a 747, and made a farewell tour of California. The building where I work allowed people up to the 57th floor to observe the flyover of Los Angeles, a thrilling opportunity for a lifelong follower of the space program like me.
That, of course, was before Coccinelle’s time with me, but Endeavour’s permanent home is now at the California Science Center right here in LA, so we had to go and see her.
The Science Center is just past the southern end of downtown, so we decided to take the Metro, a light rail system that travels both above and below ground. The station we left from is underneath an office building, and if you look up as you go down the escalator, you’ll see the work of a fantastic muralist called Terry Schoonhoven which depicts what you might see from that same vantage point if the building overhead weren’t in the way:
We got off one stop too soon and had to walk a bit to get to the Science Center, which is in Exposition Park and part of a complex of museums.
There is a lot to see at the Science Center on a wide range of subjects. We concentrated on the ones related to flight and aeronautics.
There are real used-in-space capsules from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs (which preceded the shuttles). They’re encapsulated in form-fitting plexiglas, but the hatches are open so you can peek inside.
|Mercury capsule - one astronaut|
|Gemini capsule - two astronauts|
|Apollo capsule - three astronauts|
An entire section is devoted to Endeavour with displays and artifacts from missions, lots of information, and a short film. One of the first things you see you can also touch: tires from the vehicle:
This is part of a small recreation of Mission Control Center:
And we took a ride in a shuttle flight simulator!
But of course, our reason for coming was to see Endeavour, which is in a building of its own. This is what you see when you first walk in:
There are lots of informational panels and a number of secondary displays:
|SpaceHab - a sort of popup tent for use inside the cargo bay which could provide additional working room for the crew|
But the shuttle is the star of the show:
|Heat tiles - each one is numbered for placement|
|Nose to tail panorama shot|
It was hard to leave, but the time had come…although not before spying more of Coccinelle’s cousins in a display for the gift shop!
In the park area across from the Science Center, Coccinelle was fascinated by some of our city dwellers:
Then it was onto the Metro and the end of another great outing: