Space Attractions Down To Earth In California

space


Space Shuttle Endeavor
arrives at the California Science Center soon and space exploration is on the minds of local and visiting space travel fans. Visitors to Los Angeles can see a variety of historical and futuristic space exhibitions and attractions within driving distance from LAX. California residents and visitors alike are rediscovering the state’s rich space-oriented past along with current places of interest that are helping charge the U.S. space program of tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at what California has to offer travelers interested in space-themed points of interest:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (Pasadena) has played a major role in U.S. space exploration achievements and offers free two-hour tours of its Pasadena facility. Right now, NASA’s Mars Curiosity team is performing robotic arm tests in preparation for the rover to touch and examine its first Martian rock.

Griffith Observatory
(Los Angeles) reopened in 2007 after a four-year, $93 million renovation. The 9,000-pound Zeiss Telescope can accommodate as many as 600 viewings per night, giving visitors an unmatched view of the moon and stars on a clear Los Angeles night.

Columbia Memorial Space Center (Downey) is the national memorial for the Space Shuttle Columbia’s seven crew members, lost in 2003 but also a hands-on learning center, dedicated to bringing the wonder and excitement of space science to children of all ages.

Discovery Museum Science & Space Center (Sacramento) is home to the Challenger Learning Center and houses an animal discovery room, nature trails, wildlife pond and Sacramento’s only public planetarium. Weekend activities include animal presentations for all ages, make and take crafts, and planetarium shows.Kidspace Children’s Museum (Pasadena) has more than two-dozen interactive exhibits designed for children from ages 1 to 10. At the Museum’s Gavin Physics Forest, kids can learn first hand about what it takes to get an object into space by creating mini-bottle rockets and study gravitational acceleration with the Ball Bounce exhibit.

Space Mountain– No list of California space attractions would be complete without Disneyland’s Space Mountain, the high-speed thrill ride that has hurtled visitors into the final fun frontier since 1977.


Flickr photo by Lance Cheung

Space Shuttle Endeavour To Fly One Last Time

space shuttle endeavour

Space shuttle Endeavour will be departing Kennedy Space Center for the last time next month and the public is invited to a series of events happening in September.

First, the public has the opportunity to see Endeavour as it is being prepared for its journey atop the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) September 14 and 15. Scheduled exclusive Endeavour bus tours will let guests view the orbiter as it is lifted by the mate-demate device (MDD) and placed atop a specially designed Boeing 747 aircraft. Viewing and photo opportunities will be available from the bus. The tour price is $20 per adult/$14 per child in addition to regular admission

Then, on Monday, September 17, at about 7:30 a.m. EDT, a limited number of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests will have a front-row seat to witness the departure of Endeavour from the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF). Another fly-out viewing option is from the Visitor Complex as the history-setting mission covers the sky above the attraction’s Rocket Garden. The tour price for this up-close opportunity is $40 per person plus admission.
Also, live NASA TV video coverage of Endeavour’s fly-out and commentary will be broadcast in the IMAX Theater. Doors will open at 6 a.m. EDT. Coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT.

In 19 years of service, Endeavour went on 25 missions, carried 133 astronauts, spent 299 days in space and traveled 122,883,151 miles. As a collectible, complimentary gift during the festivities, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests will receive a lithograph of Endeavour as a keepsake.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

The Last Endeavor of the Endeavor



[Flickr photo by AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker]

Second-to-last Space Shuttle launch is big tourism draw

Space Shuttle, Space Shuttle Endeavour
Tomorrow’s launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has turned into a major tourist event, the Associated Press reports. NASA estimates half a million people will show up for their second-to-last chance to see a shuttle launch. Other estimates vary from 250,000 to a whopping 700,000. That could rival the crowds that came to see the first Moon mission.

Hotels are sold out and homeowners near John F. Kennedy Space Center are reaping the benefits by renting out spare rooms. Local businesses are also seeing a boom. The AP estimates the launch could pump $15 million into the local economy.

Let’s hope so, because when the last shuttle goes into space this summer, there won’t be any more launches for quite some time. NASA hasn’t finished developing anything to replace the aging shuttle fleet and transport to the International Space Station will be the job of the Russians for the time being.

The Endeavour launch is scheduled for 3:47 EDT tomorrow. It will be mission number 134 for the fleet. The final mission will take place June 28 or later and the honor will go to the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

I’m not surprised this is getting so much attention. I grew up with the Space Shuttle and I’ve always wanted to go to a launch. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll make it. I’ll be cheering, though, especially for mission commander Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by a crazed gunman in January. She’s recovered enough to be present when Kelly heads for the stars.

I’ve never met Kelly, but I have met Gabrielle Giffords. She’s the younger sister of a college friend and I met her twenty years ago when she was a bright young Fulbright scholar. While I only chatted with her a few times I always had the impression she’d go far. My friend and I drifted apart, as college friends often do, but over the years I always paid attention to Gabrielle’s career. I wasn’t surprised in the least when she became a Congresswoman. And I won’t be surprised if I see her back in Congress one day.

Have a speedy recovery, Gabrielle, and enjoy the launch for me.

[Image courtesy NASA]