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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour, which officially opens to the public today, was shown to VIP guests at the California Science Center last week.
Los Angeles Times / Mel Melcon

Now Open for Business...

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Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit Opens Tuesday at California Science Center (Press Release - October 29)

NASA's now-retired space shuttle Endeavour, which wowed millions during its Tour of California Sept. 21 and during its overland journey through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood Oct. 12-14, goes on public display at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles starting Oct. 30. Following a grand opening ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Endeavour exhibit will open to the public about 10:30 a.m.

A companion SpaceFest will run concurrent with the grand opening of the Endeavour exhibit and run for six days through Nov. 4 at the center's nearby Wallis Annenberg building.

NASA will present over three dozen exhibits, displays, and educational demonstrations honoring aeronautics and space exploration past, present, and future. Visitors to SpaceFest will be able to learn about current NASA research missions, future space travel, and NASA involvement in enhancing aeronautics. The SpaceFest will also provide an opportunity for guests to meet and hear current and former astronauts speak about their experiences.

The exhibits will be open from Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m., and on the weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The California Science Center is located at 700 Exposition Park Drive in Exposition Park, Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street just south of downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Samuel Oschin Pavilion housing Endeavour is immediately west of the center's main building adjacent to the south lawn area. The Annenberg building is located on Kinsey Drive northeast of the center's main buildings, east of the park's rose garden.

Eventually, Endeavour will be displayed at the science center in vertical position, attached to two solid rocket booster replicas and its giant external fuel tank as it would have been prior to launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Endeavour was NASA's fifth and final space shuttle to be built. Construction began on Sept. 28, 1987 and it rolled out of the assembly plant in Palmdale, Calif. in April 1991. It was named after a ship chartered to traverse the South Pacific in 1768 and captained by 18th century explorer James Cook.

Shuttle Endeavour flew 25 times, traveling almost 123 million miles and accumulating 299 days in space. Like shuttles Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, Endeavour's next mission will commemorate past achievements in space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers and engineers for decades to come.

Source: Dryden Flight Research Center

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A photo I took of Endeavour as she prepared to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California after completing her maiden flight, STS-49, on May 16, 1992.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A computer-generated image depicting Dragon as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on October 28, 2012.
SpaceX

Dragon arrives home safely... Here is a computer-generated rendering plus a few photos showing SpaceX's Dragon capsule after it flawlessly splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at 12:22 PM, Pacific Daylight Time today. Dragon transported 882 pounds worth of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) during its 3-week CRS-1 mission, and bought back to Earth 1,673 pounds of cargo—which included hundreds of blood and urine samples taken by ISS crew members since the summer of last year. Dragon is now on its way back to the Port of Los Angeles to begin post-flight processing.

Dragon's next flight to the ISS, CRS-2, is tentatively scheduled to launch on January 18...pending results from an ongoing investigation by SpaceX and NASA regarding a premature engine shutdown that took place during the Falcon 9 rocket's ascent into space on October 7.

Dragon's three main parachutes are deployed prior to the spacecraft safely splashing down into the Pacific Ocean on October 28, 2012.
SpaceX

Awaiting recovery, Dragon floats in the Pacific Ocean after successfully returning to Earth on October 28, 2012.
SpaceX

Dragon is secured on a barge after being recovered from the Pacific Ocean on October 28, 2012...following a successful return from space.
SpaceX

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Parked outside of an Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, Atlantis is visited by KSC workers and their families prior to being temporarily stored inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis: Retirement Update... Three days after her sister orbiter Endeavour finally reached her new home at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, Atlantis herself moved one step closer to becoming a museum display when she was brought to the Vehicle Assembly Building today for temporary storage. On November 2, the second oldest shuttle in NASA's retired fleet will be towed down the street to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex...where the ship will sit silently as construction continues on her new exhibit, prior to Atlantis officially opening to the public next July.

In a position not seen since March 24, 1979, one day before Columbia arrived at Cape Canaveral to begin preps for her first flight, STS-1, KSC will soon find itself shuttle-less.

At KSC, Atlantis is about to be towed out of OPF-2 to undergo temporary storage inside the VAB on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Tim Jacobs

At KSC, Atlantis is towed out of OPF-2 to undergo temporary storage inside the VAB on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Tim Jacobs

A close-up of Atlantis as she is about to undergo temporary storage inside the VAB at KSC on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

At KSC, Atlantis approaches the VAB on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Tim Jacobs

At KSC, Atlantis is placed in temporary storage inside the VAB on October 17, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Posing with space shuttle Endeavour near Los Angeles International Airport on October 12, 2012.

Endeavour's Parade... Here are a couple of photos I took during the first two days of Endeavour's trek from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center (CSC) this weekend. I originally went to the Science Center yesterday evening to take pictures of NASA's youngest retired space shuttle as she arrived at her retirement home, but decided to leave and photograph the orbiter at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (where Endeavour was currently parked before embarking on the final leg of her roadside journey several hours later) after it was announced that the shuttle's arrival at CSC was initially delayed from 8:30 PM (Pacific Daylight Time) last night to around 6 AM this morning.

Space shuttle Endeavour is parked on the street near Los Angeles' well-known Randy's Donuts on October 12, 2012.

While I'm disappointed that I was not able to watch Endeavour as she arrived at her final resting place in Exposition Park this afternoon, I'm still extremely grateful that I got to witness history in the making. The chances of seeing another billion-dollar spacecraft that launched into orbit like a rocket and return to Earth like an airplane being transported through crowded city streets in SoCal again are, needless to say, very very slim.

Space shuttle Endeavour is parked outside of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on October 13, 2012.

Posing with space shuttle Endeavour outside of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza on October 13, 2012.

A Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store sign is dwarfed by space shuttle Endeavour outside of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, on October 13, 2012.

Space shuttle Endeavour towers above the crowd outside of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, on October 13, 2012.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Dragon floats underneath the International Space Station as its robotic arm grapples the SpaceX vehicle on October 10, 2012.
NASA TV

"Looks like we've tamed the Dragon..." Those were the words of astronaut Sunita Williams as she used the International Space Station's (ISS) robotic arm to guide the capsule to a successful berthing with the orbital outpost at 6:03 AM, Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) today. Dragon will stay attached to the ISS for the next 18 days as Expedition 33 crew members remove 882 pounds worth of supplies from the privately-made spacecraft before reloading it with 1,673 pounds of cargo that will return to Earth aboard the capsule on October 28. Astronauts opened Dragon's hatch one day ahead of schedule...this morning at 10:40 AM, PDT.

A view of Dragon's interior after the spacecraft's hatch was opened one day ahead of schedule, on October 10, 2012.
NASA TV

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on October 7, 2012...beginning the CRS-1 mission.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

A New Era Begins... At 5:35 PM, Pacific Daylight Time today, SpaceX launched the first of twelve Dragon vehicles that will officially deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) over the next couple of years, as contracted by NASA. Known as CRS-1, this mission will culminate with a docking at the ISS this Wednesday (October 10)...and end with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on October 28. 882 pounds worth of payload were launched into space inside the latest spaceborne Dragon; 1,673 pounds of cargo will return to Earth aboard the capsule three weeks from now. A new era of commercial spaceflight has commenced.

A thousand employees at SpaceX Headquarters in California watch as the Dragon CRS-1 mission gets underway on October 7, 2012.
SpaceX

More than ten minutes after launch, one of Dragon's twin solar arrays flawlessly unfurls in Earth orbit, on October 7, 2012.
SpaceX

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Dragon spacecraft is mated to its Falcon 9 rocket for the upcoming CRS-1 mission...scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 7, 2012.
NASA / Ben Smegelsky

Photos of the Day... Only two days remain before the Dragon spacecraft is launched on the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA and SpaceX have given a "Go" during today's Launch Readiness Review to send Dragon on its way to the ISS at 5:35 PM, Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday. Here's hoping this flight will be as enormously successful as Dragon C2+ was last May.

The Falcon 9 rocket is mated to the Dragon spacecraft for the upcoming CRS-1 mission...scheduled to launch to the ISS on October 7, 2012.
SpaceX

The Falcon 9/Dragon CRS-1 vehicle is brought out to its pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a rollout demonstration test on October 2, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann