The space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center is truly an amazing exhibit for all to see. Equally amazing is that the space shuttle program has its roots in the Nixon Administration and Southern California.
The California Science Center is located adjacent to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where in the fall of 1933 Richard Nixon suited up with the Whittier Poets to take on the defending National Champion USC football team coached by Howard Jones. Whittier lost to USC 51-0. But they fought hard and had a never give up attitude.
These are the same attributes that Nixon demonstrated throughout his life. There is no way Nixon could have foreseen that just beyond the walls of the Coliseum would one day be located a space shuttle that was the result of his foresight. But that is exactly what happened.
On January 5, 1972, while at the San Clemente Western White House, Nixon met with NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher, and made the following announcement: “I have decided today that the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system designed to help transform the space frontier of the 1970′s into familiar territory, easily accessible for human endeavor in the 1980′s and ’90′s.”
The space shuttle program had its share of difficulties and suffered tremendous losses – namely the Challenger in 1986. But like Nixon, NASA and the space shuttle program fought hard and had a never give up attitude, and the shuttle Endeavour was put into service with flight operations in 1992. And the rest is history.