Some unusual cargo will be hauled through the streets of Exposition Park on Wednesday, as a pair of large space-age Solid Rocket Motors are delivered to the California Science Center to be included in the eventual upright display of the space shuttle Endeavour.
The rocket motors are the major components of the twin Solid Rocket Boosters that were used to propel the shuttles into space, using fuel from a connected massive external tank. All of the launch components — the shuttle, rocket boosters and fuel tank — will be included in the vertical display of Endeavour at its new home in the $400 million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
When completed, the display will be the only vertical, launch-ready configuration of a shuttle in the world.
The shuttle has been on display horizontally at the Science Center for 11 years. The massive external fuel tank is already at the Science Center, awaiting its upright positioning in the new display.
So delivery of the Solid Rocket Motors is one of the last major components needed for the arrangement. CSC officials in July officially began the process of creating the vertical display, in what they have dubbed a “Go for Stack” process.
On Wednesday, the rocket motors, which are being donated by Northrop Grumman, will make the final leg of their journey from the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Lancaster, where they have been in storage. And the public is being invited to view the arrival as the motors are hauled off the Harbor (110) Freeway and driven along Figueroa Street and into the Science Center.
“Eleven years after Endeavour’s memorable crosstown journey, we’re delighted to invite the public to join us once again to be a part of this next historic arrival,” Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center, said in a statement.
“The arrival of the SRMs will propel us one step closer to the completion of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will serve as a launchpad for creativity and innovation and will inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.”
The arrival of the motors will occur 11 years to the day that the shuttle Endeavour began its captivating cross-town journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center.
The move of the motors is also no small task. The rocket motors are each 116 feet long and more than 12 feet in diameter. And they both weigh 104,000 pounds.
Beginning at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, the rocket motors will be hauled north on Figueroa Street from 43rd Place to 39th Street, and the public is encouraged to line the street along that stretch to watch the arrival. When the motors reach Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at 8 a.m., they will pause for an extended photo opportunity before officially moving to the Science Center at 9 a.m.
After arrival, they motors will be placed into temporary storage, awaiting placement in the upright Endeavour display.
The Science Center will open early at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the arrival celebration. Center officials said the motors’ arrival will be “the best opportunity for the public to witness any stage of `Go for Stack‘ in person.”
The six-month “Go for Stack” process began in July with the installation of the rocket booster aft skirts. The next phase will be the move of the rocket motors and other components of the Solid Rocket Boosters into vertical position, followed by the placement of the External Fuel Tank, known as ET-94, into place.
The final component will be the delicate move of the shuttle itself across Exposition Park and the use of a crane to lift it into its vertical display, which will tower 200 feet into the air. The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center that will house the display will then be constructed around it, with opening planned in 2025.
Due to the moving and construction process, the space shuttle Endeavour will be removed from public display, meaning the last chance for people to see the shuttle in its current configuration will be Dec. 31.
The 200,000-square-foot Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in Exposition Park will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space, officials said. The building will include three multi-level galleries, themed for air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center that will house large-scale rotating exhibitions.