When you’re in Los Angeles and it starts to rain there is always something to do. The California Science Center is one of those things you can do, it also has the advantage of hosting the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
I can remember as a small child watching on TV the first launch of the space shuttle, it got a bit boring due to the delays and postponements, but it was an amazing thing to watch. The shuttle differed from the ‘conventional’ rockets that had launched so far in the fact it was not a capsule attached to the end of a rocket but a ‘space craft’ that could land and fly again.
When first launched the Space Shuttle would make space travel routine and cheap, two words that access to space wasn’t in the 1970’s or 1980’s and to be honest its far from cheap and routine even today well into the 21st century. It’s ironic that at the time of writing this the only manned space vehicles operating are the Russian Soyuz (which pre dates even Apollo and the Space Shuttle) and a Chinese version of Soyuz. It’s also ironic that the three ‘new’ American space craft Orion, Starliner and Dragon have all returned to the ‘capsule’ design although they are now or will be reusable.
The original mission for the Space Shuttle was Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and specifically to the Skylab US space station launched in the 1970’s by the last of the Saturn V heavy lift moon rockets. Unfortunately due to delays in the shuttle program Skylab fell out of orbit and burned up before the shuttle first launched. Later the shuttle would perform satellite repairs (Hubble Space Telescope) and help build the International Space Station.
Seeing the iconic orbiter in person was a dream come true, so many times watching the shuttle on TV, playing with the shuttle toys as a kid and reading about its operation in many books, I never dreamed I would actually see it in real life.