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A Visit To Space Shuttle Endeavour - Los Angeles, CA
  The California Science Center is located at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, CA and is home to Space Shuttle Endeavour. Located in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, the shuttle is on display such that you can stand underneath it. The Science Center also features other excellent permanent exhibits that cover various forms of science. My goal today of course was to see the shuttle. I was able to use a tripod here to do my photography while being escorted by a member of the museum's Communications Department so some of the photos you'll see here were the manual HDR type.
  According to NASA, Space Shuttle Endeavour (designated as OV-105, or Orbiter Vehicle 105) was the last shuttle to be built. Congress authorized it's construction in 1987 as a replacement for Space Shuttle Challenger which sadly was lost shortly after liftoff in January 1986. It was built using structural spare parts that were made to build Space Shuttles Atlantis and Discovery. The shuttle was named by students in elementary and secondary schools across the nation after a ship chartered to traverse the South Pacific in 1768. Endeavour's first mission was STS-49 on May 7th, 1992 with its final mission being STS-134 which lifted off on May 16th, 2011. The shuttle flew a total of 25 missions and traveled 122,883,151 miles in space.
   The museum has a theater built near the shuttle that shows a video about how the shuttle was transported to the museum. In true Hollywood fashion, it was a huge spectacle as the shuttle was moved up city streets and was even pulled over a bridge by a Toyota Tundra pickup truck (which is on display at the museum)! The shuttle and Samuel Oschin Pavilion are free of charge to visit though donations are greatly accepted (I made a donation) as the museum wants to eventually build the Samuel Oschin Air & Space Center with the shuttle as one of the signature exhibits. The goal is by 2018 to have the shuttle upright so it looks like it's ready to launch again! You know I'll definitely be back here again to see that!
  In addition to the shuttle, there are also displays connected to it such as the Rocketdyne Operations Support Center which was the actual facility that would monitor the shuttle's three main engines on every liftoff of the shuttle. You can also see and touch the tires that were used on Endeavour's last mission and if you ever wondered what a "potty" looked like in the shuttle, well they have one on display here as well, though NASA called it a "Waste Collection System"! Special thanks goes to NASA for shuttle information and to the Communications Department at the California Science Center for photography assistance! Below is some interesting trivia about Endeavour, then on to the the photos...
As you walk into the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, Space Shuttle Endeavour greets you, set up so you can stand underneath it but not quite touch it.
One of the great things about this trip was that each museum had the shuttles set up a little differently!
A view of Endeavour's impressive three main engines, Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) and vertical stabilizer.
A side view looking towards the side/rear of the shuttle.
That is one big nose on the shuttle!!! Here you also see the crew hatch in the right of the photo where astronauts would enter the shuttle.
The museum's gift shop is located inside the pavilion near the front of the shuttle.
A view of the body of the shuttle, similar to a few photos above this one, but on the other side.
The three most powerful engines I've ever seen in my life!!!
A common theme I noticed while doing this trip is that a wide-angle lens was essential to get views like this!
I love seeing "Old Glory" next to the shuttle! The Space Shuttle is about as American as baseball and apple pie!
A view of the underbody of the shuttle shows those thousands of tiles that kept the shuttle together upon reentry into the earth's atmosphere.
Sporting an Amtrak T-shirt is yours truly, now I have proof I was here too!
A shuttle engine, there's a lot more to it than what you see on the shuttle itself! If this thing were in a car, you'd be going 0-60 in probably a half a second!
A view of the Rocketdyne Operations Support Center. Rocketdyne was the company that built the three main engines that were used on every shuttle
and during the first 8 1/2 minutes of every flight, Rocketdyne used this facility which was originally located in Canoga Park, CA, to monitor every
aspect of the engines' operation from the first space shuttle launch in 1981 to the last in 2011.
Another view of the Rocketdyne Operations Support Center.
An actual fuel cell from the Endeavour. The shuttle had three of these onboard but only needed two to operate.
Looks like Michelin makes more than just excellent automobile tires!!! These were the tires that were on Space Shuttle Endeavour during its final mission.
If you ever wondered what the "potty" looks like in the shuttle, well here it is! Officially, it's a "Waste Collection System"!
No this wasn't my rental car for this leg of the trip! This Toyota Tundra Crew Max was the actual truck used to tow the Endeavour over a bridge on
Manchester Blvd. over the 405 Freeway when the shuttle was being transported to the museum. Toyota made a TV commercial for this truck
showing it towing the shuttle the short distance over the bridge. This truck was "born in America" as it was assembled in San Antonio, TX.
That famous truck is part of a bigger display showing how a lever works, and yes, you can pull down on one of the ropes to test your strength
at trying to lift up that truck which weighs over 4,000 pounds with the lever!
An outside view of this wonderful museum located in Exposition Park in Los Angeles.
  In all honesty, it didn't "hit me" right away, but I now managed to see all four of these amazing shuttles and used Amtrak to get to all of them. I'm sure many others have gone to see all of the shuttles but I don't know anyone who used Amtrak to get to all of them! Well even though I've now completed my mission to see all four of the shuttles, this trip is not even close to being over yet!!! After leaving here, I would drive over to my hotel for this leg of the trip, the SpringHill Suites By Marriott in nearby Hawthorne, CA. Once I got there, I would drive over to a nearby McDonald's for dinner, then do laundry and back up photos from today and continue writing this travelogue. No rest for the weary though, I'd have to be up at 4:15am the following morning so as to have enough time to get the rental car back and catch my next train north. For more information on everything this incredible museum has to offer, check out the California Science Center's official web site by clicking the link below. And with that, I'm now heading north to the San Francisco Bay area, and ultimately to a place that's been calling my name since I left there last year, Napa Valley!!! Yes, for the second year in a row (and third in the past four years), I'm gonna go ride the Napa Valley Wine Train. I can't wait for this, but hey, I gotta ride the train to get part of the way there so to San Luis Obispo I now go...