Wave Staff Report
EXPOSITION PARK — A host of local dignitaries gathered at the California Science Center June 1 to break ground on a 200,000-square-foot pavilion that will become the future home of the space shuttle Endeavour, which will be displayed permanently in an upright, ready-to-launch position.
The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space, officials said. The building will include three multi-level galleries, themed air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center that will house large-scale rotating exhibitions.
The highlight of the new space center will be the reconfigured display of the Endeavour shuttle, which has been housed at the Science Center for about a decade. The shuttle is currently displayed horizontally.
In its new home, however, the shuttle will be paired with two solid rocket boosters and large external fuel tank and displayed vertically in its launch position, making it the only shuttle display of its type.
“On behalf of the citizens of California, thank you to the many generous supporters of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center project,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a video appearance at the ground-breaking ceremony. “We have achieved this groundbreaking milestone because of all of you, and together we will inspire the next generation.”
According to the Science Center, roughly $280 million has been raised toward the $400 million project goal. The amount was bolstered by an unspecified gift from the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. The donation was billed as the largest ever received by the Science Center.
“This gift is to honor the legacy of my dear husband Samuel Oschin, who was passionate about adventure and the pursuit of knowledge, especially in the fields of science and engineering,” Lynda Oschin said. “Just as Sam desired to create opportunities for learning and discovery for others, I was inspired to support this project when I saw the enthusiasm of schoolchildren who met the crew of astronauts from space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission. Now it gives me enormous pleasure to see this vision becoming a reality for the millions of young people who will be inspired to reach for the stars.”
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters spoke during the ceremony, talking about how in 1988 as a member of the state Assembly she helped secure funding for a master plan for the science museum and all of Exposition Park.
“This is the final stage of a plan started 34 year ago to make our Science Center one of the most amazing museums in the country,” Waters said, “introducing schoolchildren to science in an extremely exciting way.”
Also among those attending the ceremony June 1 were Mayor Eric Garcetti, county Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Science Center President/CEO Jeffrey Rudolph, three former space shuttle astronauts and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California.
The Air and Space Center is expected to take about three years to complete.
“Few institutions have seen this level of generosity and we are tremendously grateful to Mrs. Lynda Oschin for the unparalleled gift from the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation,” Rudolph said in a statement. “Their early contribution was catalytic in bringing space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center and we are forever thankful for this additional commitment that has propelled us forward to groundbreaking on the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. This gift is an investment in the future of science learning.”