The California Science Center is launching virtual reality tours of Space Shuttle Endeavour later this week, giving the spacecraft a new mission: educating and entertaining those staying at home.
Beginning Friday, May 15, the first virtual tour, featuring the flight deck, mid-deck and payload bay, will provide rare 360-degree views of the Endeavour -- which first launched on May 7, 1992, and completed 25 missions into space, including the first service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the first mission to add a U.S. component to the International Space Station.
The California Science Center website will offer several different tours of the Endeavour to be released throughout the spring and summer, giving participants at home the unique opportunity to explore the shuttle's interior, from the flight deck to the aft compartment.
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Visitors typically only see the shuttle's fuselage at the center's Samuel Oschin Pavilion, where Endeavour has been housed since 2012. "It's a pleasure to invite the public to experience the inside of Endeavour in honor of the Space Shuttle's final mission anniversary," Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph said, noting that the first in a series of four "Inside Endeavour" virtual reality tours commemorates Endeavour's final launch on May 16, 2011. "I'm especially pleased that these VR tours include some views that are rare, even for astronauts. Most importantly, the VR tours reveal the complexity of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's operations and the incredible expertise of the astronauts and engineers who steered it through 25 successful missions," Rudolph said.
The "Inside Endeavour" virtual tours were created by photographer Jon Brack and narrated by Science Center Assistant Aerospace Curator Perry Roth-Johnson.
Since the California Science Center at Exposition Park closed mid- March due to coronavirus stay at home orders, the museum also has offered free online program through various "Stuck at Home Science" activities. Visit the California Science Center.