As a NASA enthusiast, I too, watched the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final flight aboard NASA’s Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on Sept. 21, 2012, prior to its landing at LAX. Then, on Oct. 12, 2012, practically the entire city of Inglewood and parts of Los Angeles were shut down. For the next 68 hours, and 12 miles, history was being towed through the streets by a 2012, full-size (1/2-ton), Toyota Tundra CrewMax. This pick-up truck with a standard 5.7L V8 engine, successfully towed the 150,000 lb. Endeavour orbiter, along with its dolly and towing mechanisms (totaling nearly 293,000 lbs.), across the Manchester Bridge and 405 Freeway! Along for that historic drive was professional driver Matt McBride, former NASA astronaut and Endeavour mission member Garrett Reisman, and Toyota executive Ed Laukes.
Now, that same Toyota Tundra truck is on display in the new Giant Lever Exhibit located in the California Science Center/California African American Museum parking lot. A massive lever or “beam” pivots on a fulcrum hoisting the Tundra, while several or one person dares to test his brawn. Two “future astronauts,” Noah Lara and Samantha Comiskey, dressed in pint-sized orange jumpsuits, helped explained the science behind the Giant Lever Exhibit. As the two stood further from the fulcrum, less power was applied to the lift, and the Tundra was easier to pick up! This new unveiling celebrates Endeavour’s last flight STS-134, which launched May 16, landing in the early morning of June 1, 2011.
Among the many taking part in today’s unveiling were Jeffrey Rudolph, president, California Science Center; Michael Rouse, vice president, Diversity, Philanthropy and Community Affairs, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.; Lynda Oschin, chair of the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation; and former astronaut Garrett Reisman, Ph.D., who flew aboard Endeavour and rode during its historic tow. Rouse also presented a check for $401,300 to the Science Center raised during Toyota’s Tundra Endeavour Tweet Drive to the California Science Center Foundation.
After you’ve had your thrill of lifting this heavy load, step inside the California Science Center’s Endeavour Exhibit. Enter Mission Control Room and hear the final countdown of Endeavour’s last voyage into space. Learn about the life of an astronaut from what they eat to where they poo! Yes, see a real space toilet up close. Endeavour is one of five permanent exhibits, as well as the IMAX Theater. California Science Center, 900 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, 90037. Entrance to California Sciene is free. Parking $10. IMAX Theater Tickets, $8.25 adults, $5 children. 323-724-3623. More information is available on www.californiasciencecenter.org.
That’s IT Mommy Penny
* We attended this media event. We were given a ticket to the IMAX theater. The review is in our own words and is our opinion.