The Endeavor is getting stacked! This past week, the California Science Center began Go for Stack, the complex process of moving and lifting each space shuttle component into place for Endeavour’s upcoming, awe-inspiring, 20-story vertical display. The installation of two Aft Skirts was the first step in the six-month process of creating the world’s only authentic, “ready-to-launch” space shuttle stack in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, complete with the Orbiter Endeavour, Solid Rocket Boosters, and External Tank.
The Aft Skirts, which form the base of the Solid Rocket Boosters, lay the foundation for building the entire shuttle stack They flew on a combined 15 space shuttle missions dating back to STS-3, the third mission, in 1982. This morning they were lifted by crane over partially constructed walls into the Shuttle Gallery section of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center and placed onto an 1,800-ton concrete slab supported by six seismic isolators. Both skirts will be secured onto the seismic isolator pad by four hold-down studs, each made from a durable superalloy material weighing 900 pounds and measuring nine feet in length. The margin of error in alignment is less than one-tenth of an inch.
This month, the California Science Center Foundation achieved another remarkable milestone: substantial gift commitments have propelled EndeavourLA Campaign fundraising progress to nearly $350 million toward its $400 million goal in support of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center project.
Jeffrey Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center, remarked, “We are deeply grateful for the enthusiastic support that has allowed us to begin Go for Stack. This momentous feat moves us one giant step closer to completing the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center: a major expansion of the California Science Center. It will be a launchpad for creativity and innovation that will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.”
In the next of the Go for Stack milestones, two Solid Rocket Motors, donated by Northrop Grumman, will be transported from Mojave to the California Science Center. Upon arrival, the 116-foot long motors will be stacked with the Aft Skirts, followed by the Forward Assemblies, which together will form the Solid Rocket Boosters. After the Solid Rocket Boosters are stacked, the California Science Center’s large orange External Tank “ET-94,” will be moved, lifted, and mated to the Solid Rocket Boosters. The last steps of the stacking process will begin with Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final journey across Exposition Park.
Go for Stack will conclude with Endeavour’s lift into the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center and mating with the rest of the space shuttle stack. This technically challenging feat has never been done outside a NASA facility. Once finished, Endeavour will be in a vertical configuration, towering 200 feet tall, and will serve as the star attraction of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will be completed around the full shuttle stack.
December 31, 2023 will be the last day to see Endeavour in its current location at the California Science Center, where it has been on display for more than eleven years, until the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center opens to the public. Building construction is well underway and is expected to take approximately two more years, followed by the installation of artifacts and exhibits. While Endeavour is off exhibit, the California Science Center remains one of the largest science centers in the nation, with multiple hands-on exhibit galleries, special exhibitions, and IMAX movies for guests to experience.
With an impressive artifact collection integrated with hands-on exhibits, the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will double the Science Center’s educational exhibit space. The Air, Shuttle, and Space Galleries will provide a unique educational opportunity to our Los Angeles community and guests from around the world, general admission free.
The California Science Center Foundation is actively fundraising to complete this ambitious project with just over $50 million left to raise toward the $400 million EndeavourLA Campaign goal. Everyone can help realize this exciting vision, and donations at any level are welcomed. To contribute or learn more, go to EndeavourLA.org.