Endeavour's Legacy - Off-Ramp for October 12, 2012

PHOTOS: Shuttle Endeavour - One year ago, LA was one big party

Endeavour - 2

Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

A group of children look up at Endeavour during the grand opening of the exhibition at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Calif., October 30, 2012.

Jeff Rudolph, President of the California Science Center, strains to hold the original equipment nut and bolt used to hold Shuttle Endeavour to the solid rocket boosters.

John Rabe

Jeff Rudolph, President of the California Science Center, strains to hold the original equipment nut and bolt used to hold Shuttle Endeavour to the solid rocket boosters. Note the holes in the nut - it's designed to explode on separation. These suckers are heavy, by the way.

The nut and bolt that hold the shuttles to the solid rocket booster. Jeff Rudolph of the California Science Center says it took a long time to find a complete set. These were apparently in someone's office at NASA as a keepsake.

John Rabe

You can't get these at Home Depot. The nut and bolt that hold the shuttles to the solid rocket booster. Jeff Rudolph of the California Science Center says it took a long time to find a complete set. These were apparently in someone's office at NASA as a keepsake.

These are one of a set of three nuts and bolts that will hold the Space Shuttle Endeavour onto the solid rocket boosters when the craft is installed upright at the California Science Center, some time around 2018.

John Rabe

These are one of a set of three nuts and bolts that will hold the Space Shuttle Endeavour onto the solid rocket boosters when the craft is installed upright at the California Science Center, some time around 2018. Note the $1,000 price ... Jeff Rudolph of the science center says that's probably hugely discounted.


"It was just a phenomenal experience. To see everybody celebrating positive, patriotic, and all about science."

It was one of the most joyous long weekends in LA history. Shuttle Endeavour crawled from LAX to the California Science Center. To mark the 1-year anniversary, and look at the center's plans for Endeavour, I talked with Jeff Rudolph, president of the science center, who remembered that weekend well. "It was just a phenomenal experience. To see everybody celebrating positive, patriotic, and all about science."

More than a million people lined up along the parade route, and everybody was on their best behavior, from the police to the populace. There were no arrests among the spectators. "No arrests, not a single negative incident." Rudolph says. "You know, we took Endeavour through the streets, and if people had wanted to harm it, it really was impossible to fully protect it, but nobody wanted to create any harm, nobody wanted to do anything but celebrate."

The shuttle went on display in a temporary facility within a couple weeks, and Rudolph says 2.7 million people have viewed so far, more than a million more than usually visit the center in a year, an increase in numbers LACMA, the LA Phil, and even the Dodgers would kill for. It's as if Maestro Dudamel threw a no- hitter with the Levitated Mass. Every day.

Next, by 2018, the shuttle will be moved to a new location at the center, and set upright, attached to solid rocket boosters. This is a bigger engineering feat, Rudolph says, than bringing the shuttle from the airport. The new building will have to be more than 185-feet high, and inside, Endeavour will sit on a huge pad to isolate it from earthquakes. Just finding the nuts and bolts to attach the shuttle to the boosters took a long time. (See our slideshow.)

It's not just a tourist attraction; it's a true inspiration. Rudolph gave us just one example of many. A teacher noticed a 5th grader named Richard crying when the shuttle flew over. "I want to be an astronaut!" he said. Long story short, he and his friends won a scholarship to Space Camp, and their grades skyrocketed, not just in science. "Kids are smart," Rudolph says, "kids start with this great interest in science, and if we can maintain and build on that, they'll learn."


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