One of my favorite things in school was the yearly field trip. I looked forward to it all year, we’d go as close as the nearest park where fossils were being uncovered and as far as the San Juan Capistrano mission (I went to a Catholic school). So I was all kinds of excited when I made reservations to see the shuttle Endeavor at the California Science Center in Exposition Park as part of my “home school”. I’ve been here before on a field trip to see an Imax film (which I can’t recall) ages ago, so it was nice to finally come back as an adult.
Parking was $15, which is a small price to pay for free admission into the center. My reservation was at 10AM, so the lot was pretty empty by the time I got there at 9:45AM. The exhibit had the tires from one of Endeavor’s missions (you can touch them!), and even the personal items of astronaut Garrett Reisman (one of my favorite parts of the exhibit!). And then I saw the shuttle.
It’s so cool!! There were loads of plaques to read as well as a timeline of space missions with photos and names of the crew. I got a bit teary-eyed at the plaques for Challenger and Columbia.
Getting close to something that went to space was such a humbling experience. I wandered around the rest of the center, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the collaborative effort of women and men who made this possible. I think Scully said it best in the X-Files episode “Max” when she remarks about the Apollo 11 keychain Mulder gave her for her birthday.
I actually was thinking about, uh, this gift that you gave me for my birthday. You never got to tell me why you gave it to me or what it means, but I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women and extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals, that what can be imagined can be achieved, that you must dare to dream, but that there’s no substitute for perseverance and hard work and teamwork because no one gets there alone; and that, while we commemorate the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements and leaps possible.