Environment & Science

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

A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Space Shuttle Endeavour is situated in it's new home, the hangar in the California Science Center on Oct. 14, 2012.
Pool Photo by Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Space Shuttle Endeavour is situated in it's new home, the hangar in the California Science Center on Oct. 14, 2012.
Pool photo by Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
The Los Angeles International Airport control tower rises above the nose of Endeavour around 2 a.m. Friday morning.
Grant Slater/KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
The space shuttle Endeavour makes a right turn from a Lincoln Boulevard access road on to Westchester Parkway near Los Angeles International Airport on Friday.
Grant Slater/KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
The space shuttle Endeavour as it moves toward Randy's Donuts, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tony Pierce/KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Photo by Mike Hall
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Endeavour stops at a parking lot near the intersection of La Tijera and Sepulveda boulevards.
Brian Watt/KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
When everyone else was taking photos or video, Mike Sheehan sketched Shuttle Endeavour last weekend as it traveled from LAX to the California Science Center.
Mike Sheehan
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Space Shuttle Endeavour inches past the Colliseum, at Exposition Park.
Grant Slater/KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
Children in attendance walked around the exibit and explored the different informational signs posted during the grand opening of the exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
A group of children watch a display about the shuttle during the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Children and adults got the chance to meet astronauts and learn about the shuttle.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helps welcome the crowd to the Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibition during the grand opening ceremony at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012. Bill Nye opened up the ceremony to an estimated crowd of 400 people, including 60 fourth graders from Dr. Theodore T. Alexander Science Center School.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC


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.