The space shuttle Endeavour became the latest star to call Los Angeles home when the California Science Center was selected by NASA to be the permanent home for Endeavour. The Endeavour exhibit wows crowds with its story of space exploration and displays of life onboard. Visitors can see and touch the tires from the last mission, learn how astronauts eat their meals and use the restroom and even take a simulated ride through space.
Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037
The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park at the corner of Figueroa and 39th streets, west of the Harbor (110) Freeway. Alternately, use public transportation and exit the Metro Expo Line at the Expo Park/USC Station and walk .2 miles. Check the website for maps and driving directions. Parking is $10 per car.
Considering California’s rich aerospace history, surprisingly few visitors know that Endeavour, like all of the space shuttles, was constructed in Palmdale and Downey. It‘s also the only space shuttle to be named by school children. Between 1992 and 2011, Endeavour spent 299 days in space on 25 missions, including several to the International Space Station and the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. It will serve its 26th and final mission at the California Science Center.
IMAX Hubble 3-D
While not part of the exhibit, the IMAX Hubble 3-D movie is a good introduction to space exploration and details the Endeavour mission to repair the Hubble space telescope. The imagery is vivid and delves into galaxies and planets and shows miniscule “tadpoles” in space formed from dying stars.
Endeavour: The California Story Exhibit
This is the first area of the exhibit and sets the stage to see the real shuttle. Admission is free to the California Science Center and the Endeavour exhibit but there is a $2 surcharge on every timed-entry ticket. This area is where visitors see photos of the shuttle being built, touch the tires from the last Endeavour mission, see video of how astronauts eat in space and the very popular display showing how astronauts go to the bathroom in space – kids like the gross factor but it’s quite interesting and explained well. There is also a real Rocketdyne Operations Support Center set up for visitors and a simulated shuttle ride (additional charge). Upon exiting, don’t miss the short movie showing how Endeavour moved through the streets of Los Angeles on its way to the California Science Center.
Endeavour at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion
The Endeavour temporarily resides in the Samuel Oschin Pavillion just outside the California Science Center. While the pavilion is cavernous, the volume level inside is on the quiet side as visitors walk under and around the five-story Endeavor. The walls of the pavilion share the triumphs and tragedies of the space shuttle program. Visitors can also see a SPACEHAB, or “spare room” module that was installed in the shuttle’s payload bay to give astronauts additional living space, and a replica of a main shuttle engine. In order to preserve Endeavour for future generations, there are no plans to allow visitors inside the shuttle.
Eat Lunch with a View of the Rose Garden
It’s not convenient to go outside the museum for lunch so your best bet is to get lunch to go and find a spot in or near the Rose Garden which has hundreds of rose bushes, gorgeous views of the Natural History museum and a large fountain. There is a McDonalds and Taco Bell at the California Science Center along with the Rose Garden Café, which always has a selection of sandwiches and healthy salads, but it is closed for maintenance every year from Jan. 1 through March 15.
Where to Stay
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
There are three reasons to consider a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles for a visit to the Endeavour exhibit. First, it’s located at L.A. Live, the newest one-stop entertainment spot in downtown Los Angeles. Second, it offers complimentary courtesy car transportation within a three-mile radius, including the California Science Center. Third, guests, particularly families, rave about the rooftop pool. The club-level rooms are a good value if you use the food and drink services offered.