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This basic model suggests Endeavour’s permanent exhibit in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will include the orbiter displayed vertically with full shuttle stack as if preparing for liftoff

On Wednesday night, February 4, Alex Havasi and Marilyn Fordney went to the California Science Center to have a peek at plans for the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. Projected to open in 2018, this will be the main attraction and final home of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This major expansion will consist of 188,000 square feet with 70,000 square feet of exhibit space on four levels. The three major galleries, Air, Space, and Shuttle will have approximately 150 exhibits, 100 artifacts, and 10 simulators.

They were welcomed by Jeff Rudolph, Science Center President and CEO, who thanked the donors and those who made it possible to acquire of some of the airplanes. We were able to see small models (prototypes) of interactive exhibits in development that will help visitors understand the science and engineering of flight and space exploration. The main educational goal of the project is:

“Our quest to fly and unlock the mysteries of the universe requires machines inspired by imagination, shaped by purpose, and based on the laws of science.”

Aerospace Curator Dr. Ken Phillips introduced the audiovisual programs, hands-on exhibits and immersive environments that are being considered and showed visual examples of each. Air Gallery concepts included exhibits that let you design a plane and see how it flies, experiment with wind tunnels and wing shape to understand lift, and sit inside the front fuselage of a 747. Concepts for the Space Gallery included exhibits that let you explore how mirrors, prisms and lenses are used in astronomy to bend and focus light, understand how space suits are constructed to protect humans from extreme conditions, or plan a mission to an asteroid, moon or Mars. In addition to Endeavour, concepts for the Space Shuttle Gallery included a massive slide that transports you to the base of the space shuttle and a flown solid rocket booster segment that guests can walk through.

Then the Project Director Mr. Dennis Jenkins, accomplished space shuttle expert and author spoke about the status of artifact acquisitions and their wish list for the project. Recent aircraft acquisitions included a Boeing F/A-18A Hornet, now located outside the Science Center’s Rose Garden entrance; a Royal Navy Harrier T.4 Jump Jet, which was restored and temporarily loaned to the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance; a Republic RC-3 Seabee, an all-metal amphibious sports aircraft; and a Pitts Special Light aerobatic biplane. These new acquisitions expand the Science Center’s existing collection, which already includes flown space capsules from the Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury programs; an array of aircraft including a Douglas DC-3; and engineering models of probes of satellites, probes and rovers.

And finally, there was a graphic presentation of how Endeavour will be put into vertical position using a giant crane outside the building and other devices to set it into place–an engineering feat!

In summary, the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will attract visitors from the U.S. as well as those from other countries and will inspire future generations of explorers and scientists to go further into space.

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