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Giant engines arrive in LA for long-awaited vertical reunion with Shuttle Endeavour



Los Angeles is getting an historic boost today — actually, two of them.

Two iconic Solid Rocket Motors — the kind that once propelled America’s famed Space Shuttles into orbit — will formally end their freeway journey to the California Science Center in an L.A. spectacle like no other. The mammoth engines chugged along on the Harbor (110) Freeway before dawn Wednesday, Oct. 11,  the last leg of their journey to a new forever home, where they will be displayed with the shuttle Endeavour.

The giant motors — each 116 feet long, more than 12 feet in diameter and both 104,000 pounds — are among the last major components needed in what will ultimately be the only vertical, launch-ready configuration of a shuttle in the world.

After exiting the 110 freeway, the motors travel north along Figueroa Street beginning at 7:30 a.m., from 43rd Place to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. At 8 a.m. the SRMs will pause at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard before a ceremonial “finish line” at 39th Street at 8:45 a.m.

The public was invited to gather along Figueroa Street, from 43rd Place to 39th Street, to watch what organizers say will be a “momentous arrival,” until 9 a.m.

All of the launch components — the shuttle Endeavour (which is already there but still horizontal), rocket boosters and massive fuel tank — will be included in the vertical display of the in the $400 million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

Science Center officials in July officially began the process of creating the vertical display, in what they have dubbed a “Go for Stack” process.

On Wednesday, the rocket motors, which are being donated by Northrop Grumman, made the final leg of their journey from the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Lancaster, where they have been in storage. The engines spent the day on the road on Tuesday, spending an overnight stop at an undisclosed freeway-adjacent site.

The public was invited to view the arrival as the motors are hauled off the freeway and driven along Figueroa Street and into the Science Center.

It is a kind of moment that has become familiar in L.A., as years after NASA’s shuttle program ended, the region has become a kind of home for the iconic relic, with stunning visual moments to boot.

Many will remember 2012, when the awe-inspiring image of the Endeavour, atop a 747, in the Southern California skies made the final leg of a journey that began in Florida and ended with a 12:51 p.m. touchdown at Los Angeles International Airport.

And the arrival of the motors on Wednesday will occur 11 years to the day that the shuttle Endeavour began its captivating cross-town journey from LAX to the Science Center, where it was on display — albeit horizontally — until December last year, when preparations began for the vertical display to come.

The final component will be the delicate move of the shuttle itself across Exposition Park and the use of a crane to lift it into its vertical display, which will tower 200 feet into the air. The complex that will house the display will then be constructed around it, with opening planned in 2025.

Endeavor was the last of the space shuttles to be built — NASA’s replacement for the Challenger, which broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members aboard.

Among its crowning missions was the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, which took place in December 1993, to repair a flaw in the telescope – not an easy task in an orbit where the risk of hitting space debris or micrometeorites.

On Friday, take note of the traffic before you venture out:

A series of road closures are under way around Exposition Park from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. If you are visiting Expo Park during the road closures, enter the park by driving northbound on Hoover Street from Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Source: Orange County Register

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