When I was 6 years old, I remember waking up hours before the roosters would start cackling to watch the Endeavour Space Shuttle land. We drove out to the Edwards Air Force Base, the alternate landing site in California, and joined thousands of people looking up at the sky, waiting for the little speck to appear from outer space. Someone would point up in the sky and the crowd would watch silently as the glint of light slowly grew larger. The buildings rocked with 2 sonic booms and we knew it was coming in fast!
That was an unforgettable experience. Especially as a little kid! Yep, that’s me with the huge binoculars hanging around my neck.
It seems unreal that now everyone can see the Endeavour Space Shuttle up close and personal at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California. We were lucky to be able to visit it, and it was just as awe-inspiring as I remembered.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center
A Quick History of the Endeavour for Non-Space Buffs
The Space Shuttle Endeavour successfully completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the first mission to add a U.S. component to the International Space Station. It flew from 1992 to 2011, and was retired to the California Science Center to be put on public display.
They flew it to LAX on a special 747 airliner and then drove it through the streets of downtown to the museum. How awesome is that!?
It’s hard to appreciate looking at something that has been to outer space and back many times with people inside it and has traveled a hundred million miles. It cost $2.5 billion dollars on top of it all!
The craziest thing is that it was engineered, designed, and built mainly with slide rules and hand-drawn prints! Computers then were less powerful than the average cell phone is today.
As a mechanical engineer, I’m drawn to the complicated parts like the main engine here. They say it pumps fuel so fast that it could empty a swimming pool in 25 seconds!
Enough of the engineering, haha!
It was fun to read about all the other other shuttle missions, including the 2 sad ones that ended fatally.
Even got to see the actual control center!
And the space-age kitchen.
Each heat-resistant tile on the bottom of the space shuttle was individually created for it’s specific spot because of the curved shape of the underside. That’s a lot of work…
The Rest of the California Science Center
To me, the space shuttle is definitely the hottest attraction at the science center, but they have enough to see for a whole day. There are other airplanes and satellites on display and even a meteorite rock that looks like solid gold. There’s an aquarium lots of fun hands-on things for kids to do too!
California Science Center IMAX
After walking around the science center for a few hours, it was delightful to sit down and relax as we watched an IMAX show. We got to see the Jerusalem documentary in 3D on their huge screen. It makes you feel like you’re there in real life!
It had amazing aerial views of the city of Jerusalem and also took us throughout the inner city. It connects well with the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit they have right now too. It was definitely worth seeing.
Check out the trailer of the Jerusalem 3D IMAX Show:
California Science Center – Details
Check their website for the most up to date information on their latest IMAX show and exhibits. They are open daily from 10am to 5pm, and general admission is free.
Endeavour Space Shuttle Reservations
It was a bit confusing on their website to know if we needed to make reservations to see the Endeavour, so here’s what I finally figured out.
You DO NEED reservations if it’s a weekend, holiday, or during “high attendance seasons.” It only costs $2, and is meant to keep the crowds down in the exhibit building. Click here for their reservation website.
You DON’T NEED reservations if it’s a normal weekday, or at the end of the day between 4-5pm right before they close. It’s free to see the Endeavour exhibit.
Special thanks to the California Science Center for a fun day exploring the Space Shuttle Endeavour and getting a 3D glimpse of Jerusalem at the IMAX.