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L.A. Now Live: How the California Science Center landed Endeavour

October 1, 2012 |  8:48 am

The space shuttle Endeavour had just rolled off a Palmdale production line, but the California Science Center was already thinking ahead.

Times reporter Kate Mather will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the museum’s lengthy efforts to land the space shuttle.

Ken Phillips, aerospace curator of the California Science Center, made an audacious proposal to his boss in 1991: Acquire one of the shuttles. Someday.

Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph pounced on the idea. By August 1992 — three months after Endeavour's maiden voyage — Rudolph had blueprints showing a retired orbiter perched upright in a yet-to-be-built wing of the museum devoted to air and space exploration.

Even as long-range plans go, this was a doozy — "pie in the sky," Phillips recalled recently. But two decades later, the shuttle sketched in those blueprints sits in a hangar at Los Angeles International Airport, awaiting a two-day celebratory crawl over city streets to its permanent home at the Exposition Park museum.