Eleven years after Space Shuttle Endeavour made its 12-mile journey across the streets of Los Angeles, two huge solid rocket motors (SRMs) arrived Wednesday at the California Science Center, following a trek from the Mojave Air and Space port where they were being stored.
Crowds of schoolchildren, residents and guests — cheering and chanting “Shuttle! Shuttle!” —lined the Inglewood, Calif. streets for its arrival ceremony.
The California Science Center is constructing a new 20-story Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center that will be the permanent home for Endeavour. The shuttle will be displayed in liftoff position with the SRMs, each measuring 116 feet in length; a pair of solid rocket roosters (SRBs); and a 65,000-pound external fuel tank.
Donated by aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman, the SRMs are the final elements to arrive at the Science Center. They will be on display on the grounds for the next few weeks, before they are moved to the under-construction Space Center. Endeavour will be on display until the end of the year, and in early 2024 it will move to the new building.
The California Science Center Foundation is actively fundraising to complete the 200,000 square foot Air and Space Center, having raised $350 million of its $400 million goal. The groundbreaking was in the spring of 2022, and the center is expected to be completed in 2025.
“The kids are what it’s about, inspiring the next generation,” said Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the Science Center, speaking with The Music news on the route. “It’s so exciting to actually have these pieces of the Space Shuttle here now. … We have a lot of work ahead of us still, getting this lifted and in launch position and then finishing the building around it. But this is a big step.”
Former NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley was happy to see children excited about the space program.
“These are real flight booster segments. I think there’s a piece here that was on my first flight,” said Hurley, who piloted Endeavour during the Space Shuttle Program and in 2020 served as commander of a test flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. “We’re starting to fly Artemis, going back to the moon and hopefully someday to Mars,” he said, referencing the upcoming Artemis mission to the moon set for 2025. “These boosters are the same boosters that are gong to propel Artemis to space.”
Asemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer added that it’s been a “labor of love” getting Endeavour to the Science Center. “I’m extremely proud of what the Science Center has done, to not only bring the Shuttle here but to take the next step and stand it up so every kid — not only those in South L.A. but around the world — can actually see what it looks like before it’s launch.”
Many members of Hollywood’s SciTech community have long followed Endeavour’s journey to Los Angeles. Disney Imagineering’s Rob Engle arrived early this morning for a glimpse of the SRMs. “I remember seeing the Space Shuttle fly into L.A., standing on the rooftop of one of the Academy buildings. We were in a [SciTech Awards] meeting and all took a break to watch the Space Shuttle fly over,” he recalled. “It’s tremendously inspiring to see the product of so many years of space travel.”
The SRMs are the largest part of the SRBs. During the space shuttle program, twin 15-story SRBs would work with the space shuttle main engine to ignite and produce more than 6-million pounds of thrust —the majority of what was needed to lift a shuttle off the launch pad. After burnout, the SRBs would be jettisoned into the ocean to be recovered, refurbished and reused.