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NASA’s Leland Melvin, a black astronaut who boasts 2 space shuttle explorations. Melvin also serves as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education. He, too, marveled at the forces joined together by Endeavour.
Hundreds of spectators attended the long awaited grand opening of the California Science Center’s latest installation.
Visitors can now stand within inches of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which made its inaugural landing at its new home, the California Science Center, on Tuesday.
A grand opening ceremony at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion kick-started the highly anticipated exhibit. After a three-day long journey through the streets of Los Angeles, the science center’s new crown jewel was surrounded by hundreds of admiring onlookers.
Towering over the crowd at 57- feet high, the spectacular craft enraptured everyone from seasoned astronauts to small school children. Featured speakers included Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Inglewood mayor James T. Butts, NASA officials, astronauts, and celebrities the likes of Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, Lost in Space actress June Lockhart, and Bill Nye.
Joining of the arts and sciences under one roof, the ceremony featured performances by Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy, Grammy award winning singer James Ingram, and America’s Got Talent finalist Sebastien De La Cruz.
Also on hand was NASA’s Leland Melvin, a black astronaut who boasts 2 space shuttle explorations. Melvin also serves as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education. He, too, marveled at the forces joined together by Endeavour.
“The Space Shuttle Endeavor was not only an international collaboration that brought countries like Russia and the U.S. together to heighten space exploration and knowledge,” explains Melvin. “It also stimulated job growth; it brought people together. Just over there is Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek actress) It brings the Arts, Math and Science together.”
The exhibit not only features the 122-foot long shuttle, which is not revealed until the end of the tour, but also displays what the science center has coined The California Story. This portion of the exhibit not only provides statistical information about the shuttle, but features artifacts that traveled to space with it. This includes the actual toilet the astronauts used, along with the kitchen, tires, galleys and other installations that viewers can touch. Video and images showing the construction of the craft and its launch into space can also be viewed.
One young lady eager to see the highly anticipated shuttle shared her excitement.
“I think it’s really cool that people are going to be able to see everything that’s inside the shuttle,” says Ebony Williams. “You wait in this long line, so it’s good that you can actually see what’s going on inside the shuttle too.”
The line to the pavilion may not be the last long line Endeavor lovers endure; the pavilion has yet another pit stop. The eventual goal is to relocate the horizontally displayed orbiter to the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, so it can be displayed vertically as if it were space bound again. The $200 million dollar project is still in the fundraising stages however, having reached only half its goal. The shuttle will remain at the pavilion until 2017.