A host of local dignitaries gathered this week at the California Science Center to break ground on a 200,000-square-foot pavilion that will become the future home of the space shuttle Endeavour, which will be displayed permanently in an upright, ready-to-launch position.

The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in Exposition Park will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space, officials said. The building will include three multi-level galleries, themed air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center with large-scale rotating exhibitions.

The highlight of the new space center will be the reconfigured display of the Endeavour shuttle, which has been housed at the Science Center for about a decade. The shuttle is currently displayed horizontally.

In its new home, however, the shuttle will be paired with a pair of solid rocket boosters and large external fuel tank and displayed vertically in its launch position, making it the only shuttle display of its type.

Among those in attendance were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; County Supervisor Holly Mitchell; Science Center President/CEO Jeffrey Rudolph; three former space shuttle astronauts; Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.); and Lynda Oschin, chair of the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared via video, as did  U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a former astronaut who was commander of Endeavour’s final mission.

The Air and Space Center is expected to take about three years to complete.

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