Hundreds of people gathered near Exposition Park in Los Angeles on Wednesday to witness some unusual cargo being hauled through the area, as a pair of large Solid Rocket Motors were 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 help propel the shuttles into space. All of the launch components — the shuttle, rocket boosters and a massive external 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 retired shuttle in the world. Endeavour has been on display horizontally at the Science Center for 11 years. The external fuel tank is already in storage at the Science Center, awaiting its upright positioning in the new display. 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.
The rocket motors, which were donated by Northrop Grumman, made the final leg of their journey from the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Lancaster, where they had been in storage. The motors began their long journey on Tuesday, Oct. 10, moving through San Bernardino County and through the Cajon Pass. The journey resumed at about 3 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, traveling south on the 605 Freeway, then west on the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway and north on the Harbor (110) Freeway and into downtown.
The arrival of the motors occurred 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 motors will be in temporary storage at the Science Center, awaiting placement in the upright Endeavour display.
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.