With the arrival of two large solid rocket motors (SRMs) Oct. 11, the California Science Center is entering the next phase ofGo for Stack –the complex, multi-phase process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Space Shuttle Endeavour’s upcoming awe-inspiring 20-story vertical display.
The SRMs, donated by Northrop Grumman, had been stored at the Mojave Air and Space Port, and are the final elements of the space shuttle system to arrive at the center. The components that will make up the world’s only authentic, “ready-to-launch” space shuttle stack include the orbiter Endeavour, two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and an external tank.
The SRMs comprise the largest part of the SRBs. During the space shuttle program, twin 15-story reusable SRBs would work with the space shuttle main engines to ignite and produce more than 6-million pounds of thrust – the majority of what was needed to lift a shuttle off the launch pad. After burnout, the SRBs would be jettisoned into the ocean to be recovered, refurbished and reused.
“Exactly 11 years after Endeavour’s memorable crosstown journey, we’re delighted that the public has once again demonstrated such enthusiasm for this historic arrival,” said Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center. “The arrival of our SRMs propels 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 SRMs were transported overnight from the Mojave Air and Space Port by freeway until the last leg of their journey to the California Science Center. After exiting the 110 freeway, the motors traveled northbound along Figueroa Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, where officials, philanthropists and Science Center leadership walked alongside the SRMs to reach the ceremonial “finish line” at 39th Street.
Excited Angelenos lined the streets to witness the occasion, including elementary students from the Science Center School who greeted the SRMs with a banner they made to welcome the final major elements of the space shuttle stack. Among the local dignitaries participating in the occasion were Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer; State Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas; Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price; Doug Hurley, former astronaut and senior director, Northrop Grumman Space Systems; Mrs. Lynda Oschin, chairperson, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation; Billie Greer, chair, California Science Center and Exposition Park Board of Directors; and others.
As part of the Solid Rocket Motor Arrival Celebration, the California Science Center opened an hour early so that guests could explore Space Shuttle Endeavour and the three flown capsules from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs, learn from expert aerospace volunteers and experience hands-on educational demonstrations.
Rudolph further stated, “We want to express our immense gratitude to the city of Los Angeles staff and leadership who worked to ensure the safe delivery of the SRMs to the California Science Center; and executed it successfully.”
The roughly six-month Go for Stack process began in July withthe installation of the SRB aft skirts. In a few weeks, the SRMs will be stacked, followed by the forward assemblies, to form the SRBs. The next step will be the move and lift of the external tank, ET-94; then, Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final move across Exposition Park before being lifted into place by a large crane; and finally, the intricate mating of the orbiter with the rest of the space shuttle stack.
Once finished, Endeavour will be in a vertical configuration towering 200-feet tall. The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center building will be completed around the full shuttle stack. Dec. 31 will be the last chance to see Endeavour on exhibit until the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center opens to the public in a few years.
For more information, visit californiasciencecenter.org/goforstack.