Endeavour Exhibit Opens At California Science Center
The site of the exhibit, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, was packed with more than 500 Science Center School students and elected officials. Five astronauts were in attendance.
Bill Nye, popularly known as “the Science Guy,” emceed the event. Jeff Rudolph, president and CEO of the California Science Center, said the television host’s “dedication to science” and relationship with the center was fitting for his role for the occasion.
Standing below the five-story tall shuttle, California Gov. Jerry Brown, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Inglewood Mayor James Butts gave remarks on what the historic milestone meant for California.
Brown spoke about the “naysayers” who questioned the purpose of the shuttle program.
“Why in the world do we spend two and a half billion dollars? Why do we spend tens of billions of dollars on the shuttle and other space programs? Because human beings are about exploration, experimentation, the human imagination,” he declared. “Even today, some people are saying, ‘Don’t spend on money on things that are new. Cut the taxes. Don’t invest in university. Don’t invest in high-speed rail.’ Well, I am not one of those.”
Brown continued, “Space is not just about sending vehicles millions of miles out of space. It affects the Internet, it affects solar energy, it affects biomedical sciences.”
America is only 4 percent of the world’s population, the governor said.
“We are older as a group than most of the world," he said. "For America to continue leading, for California to continue leading, we have to invest in our mind.”
He said that California “got a big start” during the Gold Rush. “Well today, we have to extract the equivalent of gold from our minds. And you kids, you have gold. It’s inside your mind.”
Villaraigosa took to primarily addressing the 60 fourth-graders sitting in the audience, beginning his remarks by proclaiming, “Alexander Science Center School is in the house!”
“It’s about you,” he told the students. “It’s about saying that we believe in you.”
The mayor asked repeatedly while pointing to the children, “Do you believe in you? Scientists and engineers and teachers and astronauts are here with us today!”
Butts spoke about the criticism city officials faced in the decision to chop down nearly 400 trees for Endeavour’s journey through the streets of Inglewood and L.A.
“My father was an engineer, he worked for Rockwell,” he said, referring to the company that built the $2.2 billion in 1991. “And I was very excited when I was approached by Jeff and the Science Center. A lot of people said, ‘Well, just because you’re excited about engineering doesn’t mean we should lose our trees.'”
Butts said that Endeavour’s street journey resulted in more than 15,000 people watching the largest outdoor event in the history of the city of Inglewood, creating a “new sense of togetherness” and “galvanizing the community.”
Butts said, “For the first time since my father passed, I had a dream about him. He said, ‘Son, you did real good.’”
Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage on the Endeavour here.
Reach Assistant News Editor Michelle Toh here.