Thousands of people eagerly waited today at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to catch the first glimpses of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in its new home.
"This is the launch of a new mission for Endeavour to inspire the next generation of explorers. The students, parents, teachers and attendees celebrated this addition to this community and to California's focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education," said Leland D. Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education and a former space shuttle astronaut.
The exhibit debuted following a ceremony attended by local, state and federal officials and dignitaries. Attendees also gained insight into Endeavour and NASA's future space missions.
"Endeavour was part of the Space Shuttle Program's remarkable thirty-year history. It flew twenty-five missions, helped us build the International Space Station and laid the foundation for an even more exciting future for NASA and America's space program," said David McBride, director of NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Calif.
The new era of space exploration is underway, McBride said. Just this week SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., resupplied the ISS, the first American company to succeed at that task, he said.
"By relying on American ingenuity, American companies, and American workers to take over routine transportation to the space station and other low-Earth orbit destinations, NASA can focus on developing the new Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose vehicle that will take our astronauts further into space than we have ever gone before – to an asteroid and eventually to Mars," he said.
The grand opening of the Endeavour exhibit is part of a six-day event, called SpaceFest, which continues through Nov. 4. NASA has more than three-dozen exhibits, displays, and educational demonstrations honoring aeronautics and space exploration past, present, and future.