The Wife and I played host to our BFF, who flew down for some R&R (hockey, hockey, hockey). Since he wasn’t here for the Space Shuttle Endeavour experience, we thought it’d be neat to take him to see it in person. I’d just caught the Space Shuttle Endeavour when it flew around Pasadena. Just thinking back to that time gives me chills. It makes me so proud to be American, and it also makes me depressed there will be no more NASA of years past. Well, let’s talk about the happy part.
The last time I was at the California Science Center, it was for… I don’t remember. (Who cares about the last time I visited? The motherf*ckin’ space shuttle is here!)
Before you head into the big hangar, visitors walk into a large room with many bits of Shuttle memorabilia and a long wall of astronaut portraits. These are team photos of all of the space launches ever.
There’s a video explaining how astronauts go to the bathroom. Of COURSE it drew me like a moth to a flame. Hello, toilet! There is a CAMERA in the hole so that you can adjust your alignment (vagina, penis) to the hole, depending on whether you have to pee or do #2.
There is also a replica of the Mission Control room – it replays the launch of Endeavour, including the countdown! You see where each of the engineers and other staffers are monitoring the launch as well as the different cameras and computer-y screens show the shuttle’s trajectory. CHILLS, people, chills! BFF and I were wondering where Mohawk Guy sat in this room.. Haha!
There is a short video that shows a time-lapse of how they got the space shuttle from LAX to the California Science Center. I’m getting old – I teared up. (Don’t tell anyone! I’m hard-core!)
THEN you head downstairs and out to the hangar where Big Mama now lives.
At this point of our visit, I felt this strong wave of emotion, of gratefulness. I’m so lucky to live in LA where awesome stuff happens and I get to experience it! I mean, a goddamn real-life space shuttle was strapped onto a big airplane and it flew around So Cal and landed at LAX. Who else can say this? No one in Kentucky can claim that.
In addition, I felt like I was standing in the presence of greatness. Greatness in our country, in our space program, in our genius NASA teams, and in our astronauts. Shoot, any astronaut. (For real, are you going to poo-poo anyone who trains to go to space and work in a tin can that requires constant oxygen and if it crashed or had a hull breach, you would die?)
The tiles are made of silica (as in sand!), and each tile’s thickness is dependent on where it is placed. Obviously, at the nose and the bottom, the tiles are thickest, at 5-inches! Oh and get this – these silica tiles are sewn with silica THREAD!! I know these facts because I stalked a docent and made her talk to me for 5 minutes.
I tried to imagine how cramped that cockpit was with a full team of astronauts in there. I tried to imagine how it would feel flying at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour. I couldn’t. I know I said it already but I’m saying it again – I am so very proud of all of the astronauts who have gone into space, and of the NASA teams that worked the ground to support them. It’s amazing how humans have created a program to shoot people into OUTER SPACE. Right now, while you read this, there are people in a space station… IN SPACE… working!
I doubt NASA or the world’s space geniuses will be able to build a workable FTL drive in my lifetime, but I hope they do! Then my fantasy of an Honor Harrington or even a Star Trek universe would be so close to complete!
If you haven’t seen the Space Shuttle Endeavour in person, what are you waiting for?! Bring your kids and your grown-up kids and be amazed! Tickets are free (plus $2 processing fee) – we had timed tickets but when we got there, they just let us in.
Go and let it take your breath away.