Join the Public in Watching Solid Rocket Motors Arrive for the Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit in L.A.

On October 11, 2023, the California Science Center will commemorate the anniversary of the space shuttle Endeavour’s famous road trip through Los Angeles by receiving two large candles. These “candles” are actually flight-worthy solid rocket motors (SRMs) that will stand alongside Endeavour in a vertical, ready-for-launch configuration. The arrival of the SRMs marks another milestone in the construction of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which aims to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

During its 30-year space shuttle program, the SRMs played an important role as the largest part of the solid rocket boosters (SRBs). These twin 15-story-tall, reusable boosters worked in tandem with the shuttle’s main engines to generate over six million pounds of thrust needed to lift off from the launch pad. After burnout, the boosters were jettisoned and recovered for refurbishment and reuse. The two SRMs donated by Northrop Grumman have participated in 81 space shuttle missions, with the oldest cases dating back to the launch of STS-5 in 1982 and the most recent use for STS-123 in 2008.

The SRMs have been stored at the Mojave Air and Space Port since September 2020 and are now making their way to the California Science Center. Along with NASA’s last remaining built-for-flight external tank, these components will form the world’s only exhibit featuring an authentic shuttle poised for flight. The SRMs will travel mostly by freeway until their final leg of the trip, where they will be transported on flatbed trucks along Figueroa Street. The public is encouraged to gather along this route to witness this historic event.

To ensure a safe delivery, the City of Los Angeles staff and leadership have worked closely with the California Science Center. The center will open an hour early on October 11, allowing guests to view the space shuttle Endeavour and other flown capsules from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Visitors can also engage with aerospace experts who will be available to answer questions and lead educational demonstrations.

The process of assembling the space shuttle Endeavour began in July, starting with the installation of the solid rocket booster aft skirts. The next step involves stacking the SRMs and their forward assemblies to form the SRBs. Following this, the external tank, ET-94, will be moved and lifted into place. Finally, Endeavour will be mated with its already standing components using cranes. Once completed, the entire space shuttle stack will reach a height of 200 feet (60 meters) in its vertical configuration.

The construction of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center building will then commence around the full stack, followed by the addition of more than 100 aviation and aerospace exhibits. The California Science Center Foundation is actively raising funds to complete this ambitious project, with $50 million still needed to reach its $400 million goal. The public has until December 31 of this year to see Endeavour before it’s inaccessible for several years until the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center opens its doors to the public.

In conclusion, the arrival of the SRMs at the California Science Center marks an important step in the construction of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. This achievement brings us closer to inspiring future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers. The public has a unique opportunity to witness this historic event and engage with aerospace experts while also having the chance to see Endeavour and other flown capsules from NASA’s past missions. With ongoing efforts to raise funds, the completion of this ambitious project will establish a launchpad for creativity and innovation, shaping the future of space exploration.