Saturday saw us journey from Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles to see the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center. There were a few obstacles on the way, but when we did get there a couple of hours late it was still well worth the trip.
Obstacle one was planned maintenance on the LA Metro rail Blue Line, which they knew enough in advance about to print flyers and tape them up in the stations, but not apparently soon enough to put on their website. Anyway, that meant a surprise shuttle bus trip that ran the length of 3 stations and cost us a good 45 minutes.
Obstacle two came when we were only two stops from our destination after transferring to the Expo Line. Just as our westbound train was about to pull out of the station, the driver got a message to hold fast as an eastbound train had struck a car and derailed just west of our destination. A few minutes later it became clear that the line would be shut down for awhile, so we hoofed it the rest of the 1.25 miles. We arrived two hours later than planned, and one hour later than our timed tickets to get in line to view Endeavour, but they honored the tickets anyway.
My one quibble with the way the shuttle is on display is that it was difficult to get a good shot of it in it's entirety. It's hard to get far back enough to get the right angle, especially from the front. There's a gift shop area on the port/middle side and the entrance and a display on the starboard. The plus side is you can get up close and even walk underneath. This is supposedly a temporary display as they pick a final set up that may be multi level and put the shuttle in its upright launch position.
Here's a view from the rear starboard side:
A closeup of the nose and the hatch for the crew:
A closeup of the 3 main engine cones and the rear thrusters:
As I noted, you can even walk underneath and get a close look at the tiles that proved to be both amazingly effective and so incredibly fragile:
I suspect that those big gouges are from the final flight/transport to the center, but you can clearly see other minor flaws and the streaks from re-entry that flow from them.
Endeavour definitely saw some wear and tear from its 25 missions...
...but also note the rough looking honeycomb surface that appears to be as originally designed. You can see it if you enlarge the picture with the crew hatch as well. That was the most surprising thing about seeing the space shuttle in person. On TV it always looked like this smooth and pristine skin outside of the tiles. In person, some of the skin kind of looks like something I might have slapped a few coats on in my driveway. Not that it is unimpressive at all, just not what I expected.
There was more confusion, though not quite as much walking, to find the return trains as the derailment had not yet been cleared. It turned out to be less hassle than the morning however, and the return scramble for a seat on one of the shuttle buses wasn't too bad. I felt a little bad about the nuns we trampled, but after the first two buses were full we weren't messing around.
I keed, I keed.
One last shot, of the boys: