It’s been 11 years since Space Shuttle Endeavour finished its last mission landing at Kennedy Space Center on June 1, 2011. It has since made the cross-country trip to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles where it has been on display resting horizontally since 2012.
Its future though will see the orbiter remated with the last intact external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters and put on display vertically for the public to see.
Officials were on hand Wednesday to break ground on the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center at the museum, where it will become the only place people will be able to see the shuttle in that position.
“It will be an incredibly dramatic display, but it will also allow us to put on display the whole system,” said Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the museum. “The orbiter alone could not go into space. By putting the whole system on display it will allow us to talk more about the engineering and science behind it and what it takes to go into space.”
The structure with an estimated $400 million price tag will be 20 stories high to allow for the fully stacked shuttle’s display from multiple levels and vantage points. The timeline for completion of the 200,000-square-foot structure is uncertain, but the shuttle display will be the first exhibit followed by other space and air exhibits.
Design firm ZGF states on its website the center will have a unique architectural identity.’
“Characterized by a curvilinear design of exterior forms clad in stainless steel, the new addition’s architectural expression is inspired by the aerodynamic, fluid geometry of the Endeavour’s fuselage, cockpit, wings, and vertical stabilizer,” according to the site. ”As the tallest structure in Exposition Park, Endeavour’s forever home will be visible from vantage points across Los Angeles to share with the city, and the world, the legendary legacy Endeavour leaves in space.”
Endeavour is one of four orbiters on display across the United States.
Space Shuttle Atlantis is on display at Kennedy Space Center’ Visitor’s Center in a dramatic angled position that mimics it in space complete with open cargo bay doors. Space Shuttle Discovery is at rest on its wheels at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. In addition, the test Space Shuttle Enterprise, which never left Earth’s atmosphere, is on the U.S.S. Intrepid museum in New York.
The orbiter left Florida for the last time on Sept. 19, 2012 riding atop NASA’s modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, taking off from KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility, the last flight so to speak of the Space Shuttle Program. Discovery had already made its way to Virginia and Atlantis was staying put.
Endeavour, the fifth operational orbiter of the shuttle program after Columbia, Challenger, Discovery and Atlantis, had its first space flight on STS-49 launching from Kennedy Space Center on May 7, 1992. It flew on its final mission, STS-134, from May 16-June 1, 2011, the penultimate space flight of the Space Shuttle Program ahead of Atlantis’ STS-135 mission two months later.
Endeavour flew 25 missions, carrying 173 crew members and traveling more than 122 million miles.
The orbiter’s construction was completed in 1991 in Southern California by Rockwell International, a replacement to the original fleet’s Space Shuttle Challenger that exploded in 1986.
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