After mesmerizing Los Angeles with a flyover and then a journey through the streets of L.A., the Endeavour space shuttle is now home and ready for viewing at the California Science Center. I got a sneak peek yesterday at the Exposition Park museum, where the shuttle is on display in a custom-built hangar. I was blown away by what I saw. I didn’t pay that much attention when the shuttle flew over L.A. a few months ago, but seeing the Endeavour up close changed everything.
Is it too late to become an astronaut?
The accompanying exhibit features things you’d expect: patches from each journey, astronaut food, and pictures of all the shuttle missions. But there’s also a seven minute space flight simulator, an astronaut space toilet (complete with full description of how it’s used), and the oven/food prep station. Perhaps the coolest thing was the landing gear – giant tires, complete with torn-up treads.
When I walked into the hangar, I was first struck by how massive the thing is. The second thing I noticed was all the small tiles that make up its outer shell. Standing underneath, you can see all the intricate components: the screws, the tiles, the hinges. The placards do explain a little, but overall I was left with many more questions. How much does each mission cost? Where the living compartments? Who does the cooking? Why do all of these things do?
Of course, no visit to any museum is complete without a visit to the gift shop to buy magnets, t-shirts, toys and event candy, all emblazoned with the word ENDEAVOUR. Me, I purchased a small toy replica of the Endeavour.