Visitors trickled into Exposition Park early Sunday morning awaiting a glimpse of the 85-ton space shuttle Endeavour after its arrival at the California Science Center was delayed for more than 12 hours. By the time the shuttle turned into Exposition Park at around 11 a.m., a large crowd of families, students and residents had camped out with their cameras in a parking lot adjacent to Vermont Avenue.
Beginning early Friday morning, crews worked to transport the shuttle 12 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport to its permanent residence at the California Science Center in Exposition Park across from USC. The shuttle finally reached the museum just after 1 p.m.
An exhibit featuring the shuttle will open Oct. 30, according to Kenneth E. Phillips, the museum’s curator for aerospace science. The museum will also host “Spacefest,” an event featuring NASA experts and astronauts, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.
Originally, officials predicted the shuttle would arrive at Exposition Park between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday evening. The shuttle, however, encountered a series of delays, which included obstacles such as trees and telephone poles.
After leaving late Saturday night, Shubham Sharma, a graduate student studying computer science, returned Sunday at 9:30 a.m. to spot the shuttle. Sharma said the shuttle is important for providing an example of how education can have a greater impact when it is applied to reality.
“We have to get in touch with the actual implementation of what we study in college so we have to get an up-close look at it,” Sharma said.
Similarly, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the shuttle’s presence will encourage more students to pursue science-related careers.
“This is more than just a great part of our space program finding its resting home here in L.A. at the Science Center,” Villaraigosa said. “The shuttle Endeavour has inspired a new generation. Young kids — students on the schoolyard watching the shuttle Endeavour fly over the sky -— came back into their classrooms and said, ‘I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a scientist. I want to be an engineer.’”
The shuttle display will include an exhibit in the main California Science Center building, Phillips said.
The process of moving the shuttle cost about $10 million and was sponsored by the California Science Center foundation, Phillips said. The foundation paid NASA $14.5 million for the orbiter so they could prepare Endeavour for display.
Currently, the shuttle is resting horizontally in the display pavilion, which is located between the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Natural History Museum. By 2017, the museum plans to exhibit the shuttle vertically, although designs have not been decided, Phillips said.
Several parents said they came so their children could watch the shuttle slowly make its way to the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion.
“I wanted my kids to experience seeing the shuttle up close and personal,” said Edgar Flores, who lives near Exposition Park. “It’s a historic moment. They need to be involved in these sort of things.”