By Zsuzsa Londe, Ph.D.
Walk by Tommy Trojan, pass Mudd Hall, cross Exposition Boulevard and in front of you is the California Science Center, where the Space Shuttle Endeavour is on exhibit. This giant bird of a machine, the first to carry humans in a re-usable spacecraft, completed 25 successful space missions and was brought to Los Angeles from Florida, piggy-backed on top of a modified Boeing 747. From LAX, it was another mission to safely get the Endeavour to the Science Center: 265 trees had to be cut down (they will be replaced), 67 traffic lights were removed to accommodate the shuttle, more than a 1000 police officers and 200 fire-fighters had to assist the 12 miles route on surface-streets from the airport, and at times it could only move inch by inch making sure no structures were damaged. After two days, on October 14, 2013, it reached its retirement home here, in our backyard.
I took my class to see this awe inspiring engineering marvel in the fall of 2014. We learned that the purpose of the US space program was to help build and maintain the International Space Station, and the Endeavour (named after a British ship, the HMS Endeavour, hence the British spelling) was also part of the Hubble Telescope repair mission. The space exhibit is fascinating because you get a close-up look at the history of all the space shuttles, get to touch the landing-wheels, learn about space food, have the option to feel the movement of the shuttle via movement simulation, and see the video of the “26th mission” on the streets of Los Angeles. I highly recommend a visit while it is displayed horizontally before its final position when it will be shown with the external fuel tank, and the solid rocket boosters in its launch position. Ask questions from the guides, because each type of tile, the flag, the loads, the doors, and rocket boosters have a story, and are the results of great research, innovation, and engineering.
The California Science Center is open daily from 10AM to 5PM. Reserve your tickets at California Science Center.
Featured image by Andrew Adams on Flickr
Zsuzsa Londe is a faculty member at the ALI; she teaches both oral and writing skills. Professor Londe received her BA in Linguistics from UCLA (summa cum laude) and an MA and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics, also from UCLA. Languages, language- teaching, research, assessment and statistics are her ongoing academic interests. Working memory and its relationship to listening comprehension in a second language was the topic of her dissertation. Her research and publications with other colleagues have taken her to areas of generative linguistic, psycholinguistics and the language-assessment fields.