Space shuttle Endeavour proving a boon for California Science Center (Photos)

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There has always been a special connection between space shuttle Endeavour and California, where it was built, and now the California Science Center is experiencing that connection firsthand.

The Los Angeles museum, where the retired shuttle is on permanent display, had 180,769 visitors in July 2012, before the shuttle arrived. This July, museum officials expect 230,916 visitors, a more than 27 percent increase.

RELATED: KPCC's coverage of the space shuttle Endeavour's arrival in Los Angeles

Officials say souvenir sales are way up, too. Before the shuttle, the average visitor to the museum was a student with $5 in his or her pocket. Now it's a tourist who has $20, $30 or more to spend.

T-shirts and apparel have been flying off shelves. Spokesman Ken Jones says 10,000 T-shirts were sold in the 50 days after the exhibit opened in October.

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