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Endeavour Opens to the Public at Science Center

The space shuttle officially becomes a member fo the California Science Center's public exhibits Tuesday. Reserve your time to go see it online below.

Angelenos will no longer have to climb onto rooftops to get a good glimpse of the retired space shuttle Endeavour.

The California Science Center will open its public display of the shuttle Tuesday at the orbiter's retirement home in Exposition Park, where it will finally remain still for onlookers.

Endeavour arrived in Los Angeles in late September with a dramatic flyover of Southern California landmarks. Earlier this month, the shuttle made a remarkable 11-mile journey over several days along city streets from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center that drew an estimated 1 million spectators.

Gov. Jerry Brown and Science Center, city and NASA officials will join with a handful of handful of astronauts Tuesday morning for an opening ceremony that will feature a dance performance by choreographer Debbie Allen.

The new exhibit will include two parts. Before entering the hall where Endeavour is on display, visitors will tour an exhibit that tells the story of California's aerospace industry and shuttle program. "Endeavour: The California Story," will feature videos, images and artifacts, including Endeavour's toilet and kitchen and a former set of the shuttle's tires.

Then viewers will enter the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, where the 122-foot long orbiter will be on display horizontally. In the pavilion, visitors will also be able to see one of the shuttle's main engines, which was first built by Canoga Park-based Rocketdyne. The liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel for the shuttle's three engines generated more than 1.5 million pounds of thrust to lift the shuttle and its cargo into space.  

Science Center CEO Jeffrey Rudolph said the exhibit has received rave reviews from members and donors who got a sneak peak of the display.

"A lot of people tell me they surprised themselves, saying that they really didn't anticipate their own emotional response to seeing Endeavour," Rudolph said.

Rudolph said the shuttle gives him a sense of patriotism.

"I'm amazed how much. I still walk in there and still always get a feeling deep inside when I look at it. I keep saying, 'Wow. We really have this shuttle,"' he said.

The pavilion will be Endeavour's temporary home until about 2017. The Science Center last year began a $200 million campaign to build a new air and space wing, where the shuttle will ultimately go on display vertically with an external fuel tank and twin rocket boosters. The campaign is half-way toward its goal, Rudolph said.

The new wing will be named the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in honor of an undisclosed gift from the foundation of businessman and philanthropist Samuel Oschin, who died in 2003. The exhibit will contain conceptual drawings of the new wing of the Science Center.

Last week, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke called on business leaders, philanthropists and civic leaders to open their pocket books for the new air and space center. AEG committed at least $1 million to the center's new wing.

"The reality is that without the private sector stepping up to contribute both financially and in other ways, there is no way that Endeavor, a true national treasure, could come to Los Angeles and the California Science Center," Leiweke said. "The Science Center prevailed in securing this national treasure for our community. Now it is the responsibility of local organizations to invest in our city, invest in our children, invest in important institutions and be accountable for bringing these opportunities to our community."

"The true payoff for all of our investment is the educational opportunities Endeavor will create and the economic impact these programs will bring to so many sectors in our city," Leiweke said.

In anticipation of large crowds, the Science Center is asking visitors to reserve times to see the shuttle by going to its website or by calling (213) 744-2019. There is a $2 charge for getting the ticket online and $3 by phone.

Endeavour was built to replace Challenger, which blew up Jan. 28, 1986. It spent a total of 296 days in space, logging 25 mission and 4,671 orbits. Its missions included retrieving errant satellites, participating in the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope and servicing the International Space Station.

NASA's space shuttle program has been discontinued after 30 years. Hawthorne-based SpaceX on Sunday completed NASA's first privately contracted mission to space. The company's un-manned Dragon space capsule ferried supplies to the International Space Station. The capsule landed safely off the Pacific coast shortly after noon Sunday with various experiments and astronauts' blood and urine samples on board for testing. Meanwhile, Russian Soyuz spacecraft are being used to ferry people to and from the space station.

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