The space shuttle Endeavour went on display at the California Science Center this week. Accompanying it is another exhibit, complete with real artifacts that explain how astronauts get their electricity, prepare food, and use the bathroom in space.
One of the first things you’ll see when you visit “Endeavour: The California Story,” is a set of tires used for a shuttle landing.
"These tires are from Endeavour's last mission," said California Science Center President Jeff Rudolph when we previewed the exhibit last week. "You can see the wear on the rear tires in particular. They were used for just one landing, so you can see the forces involved."
The exhibit also features Endeavour’s three fuel cells, a specially-designed shuttle toilet and the galley. It also aims to explain how the shuttle program - and Endeavour in particular- has its historical roots right here in Southern California.
For instance, there’s a real launch control center, donated by Rocketdyne.
"This command center was used on every space shuttle launch in Canoga Park at Rocketdyne's facility," Rudolph said. "They built the main engine and monitored its performance before and during each flight. Their job was done eight-and-a-half minutes into the flight. It's one of those stories most people don't know."
The last highlight of the exhibit is a pair of mechanical flight simulators, a big hit for 5th graders from the Science's Center on-site elementary school. They holler as the engines roar, count down to liftoff, and then sit back and watch as the motion simulated video takes them on a mission to fix the Hubble telescope in outer space.
"It's like you're actually an astronaut," said Fernando Calderon. "It actually felt like I was in outer space."
"Endeavour: The California Story" and the main exhibit featuring the space shuttle itself is now open to the public. You can get reserve tickets for available time slots at the Science Center’s box office or at www.californiasciencecenter.org.
You can see all of our Endeavour coverage at www.kpcc.org/shuttle.