End of year, end of exhibit: Space shuttle Endeavour goes off view for a few years

With the end of 2023 comes the end of an endeavor — or rather Endeavour — as the retired NASA space shuttle goes off public view for the next few years.

The California Science Center in Los Angeles has exhibited OV-105, better known as the orbiter Endeavour, since Oct. 30, 2012. The 11-year exhibition, which was housed in the center’s specially-built Samuel Oschin Pavilion, offered unmatched access to the spacecraft, as the public could not only walk around Endeavour, but also under it, as the vehicle was displayed in the horizontal atop raised mounts.

Now, the science center is preparing to take Endeavour vertical — standing it up with a pair of solid rocket boosters and an external tank like it was last seen on the launch pad. The new 20-story-tall display will be the highlight inside the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is under construction adjacent to the main science center building in L.A.’s Exposition Park.

Though the work to stack Endeavour is expected to be completed in early 2024, the building and its exhibits will not be ready for public visitors for a few more years to come, during which there will be no public access to the space shuttle.

Artist rendering of the space shuttle Endeavour inside the California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, now under construction in Los Angeles. (Image credit: California Science Center)

The last visitors to see Endeavour on exhibit will be those who leave the science center when it closes on Sunday (Dec. 31) at 5 p.m. PST.

“You could be very intimate with Endeavour by being able to walk under her,” Dennis Jenkins, the project manager for the California Science Center’s space shuttle display, said in an interview with collectSPACE.com. “I’m going to miss how Endeavour is right now.”

“That said, how she’s going to be when we reopen in a couple of years will be fantastic. So we are trading an extremely interesting exhibit for an even more interesting exhibit,” he said.