This rock is one of the smallest pieces of space memorabilia at the California Science Center. It is just a tiny piece of rock weighing 1.6g, but has great significance – it was picked on the moon during the Apollo 11 “one small step for man” lunar landing. It belongs to pioneering astronaut Buzz Aldrin and is on loan to the science centre.
This Apollo 18 command module also caught our attention at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The Apollo 18 mission was intended to land on the moon in the 1970s, but was cancelled. So the command module never made it to the moon – though it did enter earth orbit and dock with the Soyuz space station as part of the joint American-Russian Apollo Soyuz Test Project.
To us that open door into the command module was oddly reminiscent of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” – the scene where Dave says “Open the pod bay doors, Hal”. Actually, it looks like opening the door of the command module is a rather complicated affair.
Another interesting satellite at the California Science Center is this full-scale model of Explorer 1, which was launched into earth orbit in February 1958. That was just four months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the earth. Explorer was the first successful US satellite – and a clear indication that the space race had begun.
We made several visits to the California Science Center during our recent visit to Los Angeles, mainly to see the space exhibits. That small spherical satellite near the centre of the photo above is a full-scale model of Sputnik 1, which was launched into orbit in October 1957 and kicked off the space race between the Soviet Union and United States.
As well as yesterday’s model of Los Angeles, we saw another model city at the Long Beach Museum of Art, in the current exhibition titled “Vitality and Verve in the Third Dimension”.
During our recent visit to Los Angeles we went to the Natural History Museum and enjoyed looking at the various displays. The “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibition included this model of LA, which was constructed by the City Planning Department in 1938-40. You can still recognise City Hall (upper right in the above photo), and Union Station below.