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Solid Rocket Motors arrive at Expo Park


Part of space shuttle Endeavour exhibition

South LA residents on Wednesday witnessed some unusual cargo making its way through the Exposition Park area as a pair of large space-age Solid Rocket Motors were delivered to the California Science Center to be included in the eventual upright display of the space shuttle Endeavour.

The rocket motors are the major components of the twin Solid Rocket Boosters that were used to propel the shuttles into space, using fuel from a connected massive external tank. All of the launch components–the shuttle, rocket boosters and fuel tank–will be included in the vertical display of Endeavour at its new home in the $400 million Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.

When completed, the display will be the only vertical, launch-ready configuration of a shuttle in the world.

The shuttle has been on display horizontally at the Science Center for 11 years. The massive external fuel tank is already at the Science Center, awaiting its upright positioning in the new display.

Delivery of the Solid Rocket Motors, held in storage at the Mojave Air and Space Port north of Lancaster, is one of the last major components needed for the arrangement. CSC officials in July officially began the process of creating the vertical display, in what they have dubbed a “Go for Stack'' process.

“Eleven years after Endeavour's memorable crosstown journey, we're delighted to invite the public to join us once again to be a part of this next historic arrival,'' Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center, said in a statement. “The arrival of the SRMs will propel us one step closer to the completion of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will serve as a launchpad for creativity and innovation and will inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.''

The arrival of the motors occurred 11 years to the day that the shuttle Endeavour began its captivating cross-town journey from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center. It was no easy task to transport them. The rocket motors are each 116 feet long and more than 12 feet in diameter. And they both weigh 104,000 pounds.