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Mon, Feb 05, 2024

Cal Science Center Shuttle Display Now In Launch Position

Shuttle Endeavour Is Now Fully Stacked and Mated

The California Science Center has successfully completed what they call the only authentic space shuttle system display in launch configuration. 

Endeavour's installation in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a major expansion of the California Science Center, is the grand finale of the unprecedented Go for Stack process. With Endeavour's detachment from the gigantic, 450-foot crane and metal sling just after midnight, this marks the official completion of the complex, six-month, multi-phase process. The 20-story space shuttle exhibit will be the star attraction of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

Work began Monday, January 29 around 9:30 p.m. for Endeavour's "soft mate" to the rest of the space shuttle stack. Overnight, Endeavour was lifted into the construction site and captured at attach points on the massive orange external tank, ET-94. Work resumed the evening of Tuesday, January 30 to achieve the "hard mate," where the flight hardware bolts were completely torqued. Endeavour was hard mated and firmly secured in place as of 9:15 p.m. on January 30. At 12:15 a.m. on January 31, after almost fourteen hours of work in total, Endeavour was fully detached from the crane and sling, and the final mating of the space shuttle to the external tank and two solid rocket boosters was complete.

Space shuttle Endeavour flew 25 missions in space and has inspired roughly 20 million guests from around the world since arriving at the California Science Center in October of 2012. The 122-foot-long orbiter has a wingspan of 78 feet and is just one part of the full space shuttle system. Now fully installed, the California Science Center's authentic space shuttle stack also includes two solid rocket boosters—each consisting of an aft skirt at their base, a 116-foot solid rocket motor, and a forward assembly on top—and the largest component of the stack, 154-foot external tank. The roughly six-month Go for Stack process began in July 2023 with the installation of the aft skirts. The solid rocket motors were installed in November, followed by the forward assemblies in early December. ET-94 was installed in early January.

The final preparations to move the orbiter to its new home began immediately after Endeavour's exhibition closed to the public on December 31, 2023. On the morning of January 2, crews began to carefully envelop Endeavour in shrink wrap to protect it during its journey, installation, and for the duration of construction. Endeavour moved out of its previous and temporary home, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center, on January 18 and made the 1,000-foot journey down State Drive to the site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center on January 26.

Construction of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a major expansion of the California Science Center and Endeavour's permanent home, began in 2022 and will continue around the 20-story shuttle display. Endeavour's stack will remain covered by scaffolding and additional plywood and Kevlar fabric throughout the duration of the Air and Space Center construction process. A positive purge using filtered air will also minimize dust near the space shuttle stack.

The future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will serve as a launchpad for creativity and innovation to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers. 



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