Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.
Last space shuttle External Tank arrives at California Science Center.
ET-94 paraded its way through the Los Angeles suburbs today, May 21, as it journeyed to its final home at the California Science Center.
The last surviving flight-worthy space shuttle external tank, ET-94 left the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans April 12, where it has been since it was fabricated in the early 2000′s. It traversed the Panama Canal April 25-27, and arrived at Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles last Wednesday, May 19, after a 36-day sea voyage.
Leaving Marina Del Rey at 12:01am PDT with a New Orleans jazz band, the tank encountered more obstacles than expected during its 15.5 mile trek through the city, arriving at the CSC at 7:13pm PDT.
I was excited for the butterfly exhibit, unfortunately it sold out *cried in Spanish*. Anyways my day was pretty good! I was so giddy when I saw the dinosaur exhibit, BUT I HONESTLY WISH NICOLE WOULD HAD BEEN THERE SITTING NEXT TO ME. I PROBABLY WOULD HAD BEEN LAUGHING THE WHOLE TIME AND PEEKING IF SHE WAS LAUGHING TOO! IT WAS A REALLY GOOD EXHIBIT PROBABLY BC IM A FREAK FOR DINOSAURS 10/10 FR! *inserts a dino emoji*.
Nevermind space exploration, let’s figure out exactly what’s in our water.
If you haven’t gotten a hint by now, I love museums. Ironically, I recently had my very first visit to the California Science Center, nestled the heart of my beloved city. Right next door to the Natural History Museum, The California African American Museum and The Coliseum. You can spend an entire day getting your learn on.
The water life really intrigued me. So many interesting and diverse creatures are swimming around in the water that makes up roughly 70% of our planet. And to think, we’ve only explored about 5% of that water. Pretty hard to wrap your head around. Judging by the amount of scary sea animals that I saw at the Science Center alone, we oughta be a little more considerate of the other 95% of sea life that has yet to show itself. Frankly, the ocean scares the hell out of me. I don’t swim in water that I can’t see through. But my goodness, it is full of amazing animals.
A-12 #06927, visited on 1/12/2014, was a particularly interesting specimen. This bird was the only A-12 trainer built, and logged over twice the flight time than any other A-12s. Kelly Johnson, the team leader behind the creation of the whole program, actually flew in this plane. Most of the bird is unpainted, which made for some interesting shots.
I came to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California to see this Habu and Space Shuttle Endeavor, which was quite an emotional experience. Moreover, this was the first aircraft that I photographed with this project in mind. The top shot was taken with my iPhone 5s. The rest were shot with the Canon s110.
Two years ago this week, Endeavour was transported to the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. This was only the first step of a still evolving museum exhibit. Endeavour is now temporarily displayed in landing configuration. Eventually, she will be displayed in launch configuration with a payload bay door open. Spacehab Module, a component which was originally conceived to allow tourists a ride aboard the shuttle, will be on display inside the payload bay just as it flew on STS-118. Although Spacehab never flew as a tourist attraction, it was used as an astronaut workshop, residing in the payload bay when spare room was available. Today, during an event called “Go for Payload”, Spacehab was loaded into the open bay. Opening the bay doors in the first place was quite a feat; this was the first time it had been done outside Kennedy Space Center. They’re quite fragile, designed to operate in microgravity.
Go for Payload kicked off with a talk from astronaut Barbara Morgan, who was Christa McAuliffe’s backup as the Teacher in Space. Barbara was passionate enough about space to continue to pursue a spaceflight career after the tragic flight of Challenger, and the cancellation of the Teacher in Space Program. In 2007, she flew aboard Endeavour during STS-118 and became the first educator in space. Personally, I can think of no more inspiring story.
Barbara, shown in the second photo, told a story of visiting the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in 2012 after the shuttles retired. The VAB was totally empty except for Endeavour, alone in the corner, covered in visqueen with her nose removed and avionics all stripped out. This sight made Barbara cry. This was the last time she saw her ship until Endeavour arrived at the California Science Center, fully assembled, full of life and shining like a diamond. Barbara was excited to attend Go for Payload and said, “This feels like coming home.” Barbara said, “Endeavour was actually the replacement orbiter for Challenger. As we all know, Challenger was a mission for education…I want you to know, she’s where she belongs, carrying on that mission of education.”
After Barbara’s keynote, it was time to lift Spacehab. I joined California Science Center’s curator, Dr. Kenneth Phillips, shown in the third photo, to watch the big moment. Kenneth was majorly responsible for Endeavour finding its home at the Science Center. I asked how he was feeling as we watched the 6,000 lb Spacehab Module precariously lifted above the orbiter. He said, “Optimistic, but very cautiously optimistic. These are great guys, they know what they’re doing. Whenever you handle an artifact, it can be nerve wracking.”
During the lift, I joined Barbara for a chat. We spoke about my father’s involvement in the Teacher in Space Program, that he was an applicant. Coincidentally, Barbara and I are both from Idaho, and we talked about our similar small town lives. She had a lot of questions about my life in Idaho and what I was doing now. Barbara was so personable and kind. NASA tends to pick good people to send into space.
Over the course of the next hour, Spacehab found its place in Endeavour’s payload bay. Kenneth told me that he felt a lot better, and that his crew was the best in the world.
It was quite a privilege to attend and witness Go for Payload. Big thanks to California Science Center for inviting Project Habu to the event.
What can I say about this bird that hasn’t already been said? Endeavour, whose name was borrowed from Captain Cook’s first exploration ship. Endeavour, the ship that replaced Challenger after her accident, carrying her spirit. There’s a lot to live up to. I’ll give this a shot.
OV-105, the newest ship of the orbiter fleet, rolled out in 1991, just after I was born. I grew up with her; she was always my favorite. Endeavour was also the first orbiter that I ever saw up close. I visited first the California Science Center in Los Angeles on January of 2014, fully intending on thoroughly photographing the ship for this project. I walked into the hangar, and immediately had to fight tears welling up in my eyes. The emotions I felt were oddly similar to a time when I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night in person. How could I have taken a picture Starry Night and call the photograph art? I snapped two or three photos of the orbiter, and realized that there was no way I could capture what she meant to me in a photograph, so I stopped snapping.
It wasn’t until my second visit on August 2, 2014, when I was finally able to photograph the bird. Endeavour will always hold a special place in my heart. Every orbiter is beautiful, but I think OV-105 will always be my favorite.
The tank was offloaded from its barge and was greeted by members of the California Science Center and the public.
Over the course of the night on Saturday, May 20, the tank will be driven 15.5 miles from Marina Del Rey to the California Science Center. Taking a route similar but longer to Endeavour’s in 2012, the tank is not as wide, making the 15.5 mile journey quicker and easier.