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Shuttle Endeavour exhibit opens to public Tuesday after gala opening ceremonies

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Speeches by the mayor and other local dignitaries, musical performances, astronauts and a lot of enthusiastic school children will highlight the official grand opening ceremonies of the California Science Center's exhibit of the space shuttle Endeavour on Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m. (Unfortunately, the ceremony is invite only and not open to the public.)

At 10:30 a.m., 500 Science Center School students will be allowed to view the shuttle first.

After that, the massive shuttle — glimpsed by thousands of Angelenos as it made its slow winding way from LAX earlier this month — goes on display to the general public at 11 a.m., along with a separate exhibit, "Endeavour: The California Story."

NASA administrators and elected officials — including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Inglewood Mayor James Butts and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden — are on tap to speak. In the audience will be astronauts James M. Kelly, R. Shane Kimbrough, administrator Leland D. Melvin and retired astronauts Barbara Morgan, John D. "Danny" Olivas and Garrett Reisman. Choreographer Debbie Allen will present a dance performance during the ceremonies.

RELATED: Why does NASA spell 'Endeavour' wrong?

The exhibit will open at the Samuel Oschin Air and Science Center Display Pavilion until the center completes construction on its 170,000 square-foot permanent home, The Samuel Oschin Air and Science Center.  

Visitors will be able to be able to get up close — even underneath — the massive ship.

"Endeavour: The California Story" highlights the shuttle's ties to California, where much of it was conceived and built.  On display will be photos and video of Endeavour's construction, as well as background on its many parts, including the shuttle's kitchen (Galley), living room (Spacehab) and the so-called 'space potty'  (Waste Collection System), for those interested in the fine points of intergalactic hygiene.  

For more on the center's hours of operation and related info, see the California Science Center's website.

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