Bright and early tomorrow morning, we’ll face L.A.-area traffic to make our way to the California Science Center, the future home of space shuttle Endeavour. At a ceremony on October 11, 2011, the title for the orbiter will be turned over to the science museum.
Only four orbiters exist, and only three of those flew actual missions in space. On April 12, 2011, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden announced that one of those workhorses would return to the place it was built, Southern California. By the time we traveled to the Space Coast to see Endeavour’s not-launch and then launch, we knew that orbiter would end up in our back yard.
Who knows when the space shuttle will actually get here? The space isn’t ready yet, and Endeavour will need to travel farther than any of the others to its museum home. But the title transfer is an important step, and we want to be there. If all goes well, we’ll share the rundown in our regular Wednesday post. You can also click HERE (launch photos) and HERE (our tour with Stephanie Stilson) for our previous up-close-and-personal looks at Endeavour.
We already know that astronaut Mark Kelly is among five STS-134 astronauts (for our STS-134 crew overview, click HERE) expected to be present at Tuesday’s title transfer. Mark Kelly, the commander of Endeavour’s last mission, retired from NASA on October 1. His retirement ceremony was held last Thursday in Washington, DC, where Representative Gabrielle Giffords (Kelly’s wife) and Vice President Joe Biden joined the celebration. We’ve written about Mark Kelly before (click HERE and HERE).
Of course, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an official from NASA, and the head of the California Science Center will be part of the ceremony too. Oddly, STS-134 crew member Greg Chamitoff isn’t listed in the press information about the event, even though he has family in Southern California. In fact, he’s said before that some rides at Disneyland are rougher than a space shuttle launch. Maybe Chamitoff is still in Australia as a guest of the University of Sydney (click HERE to see his lecture there about STS-134).
When we were at Kennedy Space Center this past spring, we interviewed Jeffrey Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center, about Endeavour’s future homecoming. In a bit of serendipity, one of the qualities of the universe that we most value, Doug had a chance to interview Kimberly Guodace during the GRAIL Tweetup. In some amiable chit-chat after that interview, Doug mentioned that we had written a series about Endeavour and STS-134 and that, as a part of that series, we had videorecorded an interview with Jeffrey Rudolph. Kim, who became a Lofty Ambitions guest blogger (click HERE for that post), chimed in that she had guided Jeffrey Rudolph through his tour of Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center. Coincidence? Absolutely, and not at all. We share that video interview of Rudolph today as part of our ongoing interview series on the second and fourth Mondays of every month.