Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Space shuttle Endeavour could land in Los Angeles by year’s end


The space shuttle Endeavour could land in Los Angeles by the end of the year, if officials can quickly raise $28.8 million to transport the orbiter to the city.

Getting it here isn't exactly an easy task.

It would be flown atop a Boeing 747 to a local airport, possibly Los Angeles International. From there, it would be towed to an undetermined storage location through surface streets that are wide and unobstructed by freeway overpasses or overhead electrical wires, said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president of the California Science Center, a free museum at Exposition Park run by the state and a nonprofit group.

The museum has managed the transport of bulky aircraft through L.A.'s streets before. It navigated the arrival of the 150-foot-long Douglas DC-8 aircraft in 1984 that is on display outside the museum near Figueroa Avenue and Exposition Boulevard.

The science center plans to make the Endeavour a centerpiece of its planned third wing of the museum, which will give its aeronautics and space-exploration gallery its own building, at a cost of about $200 million. That will be built east of the Science Center at Exposition Park.

Despite the challenges, the mood at the Science Center was celebratory Tuesday. Highlighting their underdog status, officials hastily prepared a news conference, and even gathered elementary school students from the Science Center School in time for the TV cameras.

The Science Center was not seen as one of the higher-profile contenders to land the orbiter. Many thought the Johnson Space Center in Houston or the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio would beat Los Angeles' bid, which was decidedly-low profile.

Other museums promoted their bids with great visibility, attracting former astronauts and their spouses to lead efforts. The Seattle Museum of Flight, near Boeing Field, even began constructing a 15,500-square-foot Space Gallery in hopes of landing an orbiter.

In contrast, the California Science Center hasn't even spent money on designing the future home of the space shuttle.

Instead, Rudolph stressed the facility's widespread appeal as a general science museum, touting its 1.4 million visitors a year, which he said made it the largest such museum in Southern California and one of the most-visited in the nation. He also stressed that giving a shuttle to Southern California would be fitting, as Downey and Palmdale were key places where all space shuttles were built.

"We did a good job in explaining how we would use it to educate and inspire, which is what NASA is wanting to do," Rudolph said. "We just went with our strength and figured that NASA was really going to read it."

Rudolph also emphasized the reach of the California Science Center in the heart of Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city.

Rudolph said he thought the center might be a finalist when NASA officials called Monday asking them to rank which space shuttle they would prefer. But they  received final word just one hour before the public announcement.

The California Science Center was opened in 1998 to replace the old California Museum of Science and Industry, which opened in 1951. The Science Center's current aerospace gallery already has command modules of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft; with the inclusion of Endeavour, the Science Center will have examples of all types of U.S. manned spacecraft.

It could take five years for the California Science Center to complete a permanent home for Endeavour and open it to the public, but they hope to open a temporary exhibit sooner.


After fierce competition, NASA officials announce L.A. will get a space shuttle

South Bay firm is building 22-story rocket

Aerospace legend Bruce Rutan retires

-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the California Science Center

Photo: Space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch on April 19 for its 134th, and final, mission. Credit: Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (19)

Great for the City of Los Angeles!

My father worked for Marquardt in Van Nuys (they built the orbiters' thrusters). I remember as a kid seeing Engle/Truly land STS-2 at Edwards AFB. Now I can take my kids to the California Science Center and show them what Grandpa help build. I'm so happy our aerospace roots helped land this treasure.

Well Done!

This is great! I didn't think our city could land one of these, but it will be a wonderful addition to our museums. There will not be another spacecraft like the Shuttle for a looooong time.

The SR-71 at the Science Center is an amazing thing to see, and adding a space shuttle will take the museum to another level.

Compared to all the worthless things our city spends money on, getting this shuttle will be a real coup. Congrats to the Science Center on a job well done. Along with the rennovations at the Natural History Museum that neighbors it, the area has a bright future.

Awesome! Congrats to the Science Center and to the city in general!

I think its kind of stupid that they already have space craft from mercury and apollo and gemini , wheras Chicago has realy nothing , The Idea would be better to put at least one ina central location so it wouldnt be so far to travel to see . I guess our President ! or mayor Elect Rahm Emanuel has no pull around here.

I'll move it there for half that ammount, sounds like your getting ripped off.......

biggest waste of government dollars. trillions were spent on the space shuttle since the 1970s and what did the taxpayers get out of it? for a fraction of the cost unmanned rockets could have launched the same satellites. besides satellites, what else did the space shuttle do? best i could tell it was just another government jobs program filled with enough pork and pocket lining that the bell scandal looks legit when compared side by side.


This is so unbelievably cool! The space program, despite critics' naysaying, has been an important part of the U.S.' success in many technical ventures. It is so incredible that we will receive one of the orbiters for the museum!

This is SO THRILLING! From the moment it was conceived nearly 40 years ago, the Space Shuttle program and the City of Los Angeles have been intimately intertwined. Like Apollo before them, the Shuttles were all very proudly built here. They left from here, and landed back when they needed to. The Shuttles are a major part of the long, proud heritage of Southern California aerospace, which is still being written today.

How perfect and beautiful that after nearly 20 years of spaceflight, Endeavour is finally coming back home, back to the people who gave birth to her, back to the city which bade her Godspeed over two decades ago.

Congratulations to the entire team at the California Science Center who made this miracle happen, and job well done. A profound THANK YOU, to both you and to NASA, for this amazing gift to our community.

Now, we just need to raise that $28.8 million ...

Here comes the SONIC BOOMS again. Missed hearing those when the shuttle used to land in So Cal.

I think its a joke that California is getting one of the space shuttles

The pride of California's space industry (hat tip to my late father's employer North American Rockwell) is coming home. Hurray for us. I can't wait to visit the Space Museum and see it.

How about one for Central Florida. We hosted the program for 30 years. And it's not as though we don't get tourist traffic here.

"Chicago has realy nothing"

Which is why they picked LA Baby!

"The science center plans to make the Endeavour a centerpiece of its planned third wing of the museum, which will give its aeronautics and space-exploration gallery its own building, at a cost of about $200 million. That will be built east of the Science Center at Exposition Park."

Where did we get a spare $200 million?


I am so proud to be an Angeleno! So glad LA is getting a REAL space shuttle!

And this will work really well as the Expo Line will be able to bring millions of visitors a year to the Expo Park without driving.

LA is really growing up.

Why wouldn't they just land it at Edwards after STS134? This would save the piggyback flight costs, and anything they needed to decommission and return to FL would be a fraction of the shipping/flight expense of flying the shuttle back out here on a 747!


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: