Oct 31, 2015
The Space Fest is a three-day festival at the California Science Center featuring NASA exhibits & displays, educational demonstrations honoring aeronautics and space explorations additionally kids will have the chance to meet Astronauts Garrett Reisman and Joseph Tanner. Visitors to the Space Fest will learn about current NASA research missions, future space travel and NASA involvement in enhancing aeronautics. I had the chance to attend a pre-event of Space Fest along with many students and families that day to view some of the new exhibits & space 3D IMAX movie that was launching at the event. There I met and interviewed David Knight, Board of Trustees and Kenneth Phillips, Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center.
“Oct 30th – Nov 1st 10am-5pm regular museum hours is Space Fest 2015. For the 1st time we have a full..so originally this started as Endeavour Fest and then we didn’t do it again because of the government sequester, we couldn’t get NASA. This year we are doing it as Space Fest because it’s more than just Endeavour because NASA is the Co-Producer of the event. So we have a full list of NASA exhibits, Astronauts, people from Jet Propulsion Labs, lots of hands exhibits for young people. Three times a day we are going to present my movie “Three Nights, Three Days: Endeavour’s journey through Los Angles” either Melissa Ayn Eccles or I will introduce the film then we will run the film. We replaced the soundtrack in the film, so visually it’s about the same but the soundtracks are totally new. Then myself and sometimes an Astronaut will do about a 20 minute or 30 min Q&A after the film to answer people’s questions. We have a lot of really cool NASA people giving talks between the film space so that will be a nice program. We are also opening up the new exhibit at the science center ‘Journey to Space’ the whole space adventure, it’s very kid oriented. We also have a world premiere of a new space 3D IMAX movie also called ‘Journey to Space’ which I also contributed a little bit of footage, they converted it to IMAX. It’s really cool stuff, all of that being unleashed and possibly our new special Endeavour exhibit. My friends have been developing my gift to the Science Center, maybe it will be ready for Space Fest. We have all of that going on.” – David Knight, Entrepreneur & Board of Trustees at the California Science Center
Interview with Kenneth Phillips:
QGITS: Tell us about the Space Fest this year at the California Science Center?
Kenneth Phillips: We are looking forward to having thousands of people come through. Space Fest is continuation of a tradition that we began the 1st year that Endeavour Space Shuttle went on display. It was awarded in 2011 but it had to finish out it’s flight work for NASA. Then it took a year for us to get ready for it to come here to California. We had to prep for it. So when it first came in 2012, we had a Space Fest and it was really fun people enjoyed it. So then we had another one in 2013. I think 2014 was one of those years NASA was sequestered and couldn’t do the Space Fest..remember the government shut down. So its been an annual event so its always the last of October until the 1st of November. This year there is a new exhibit that we are opening. So it’s not just a series of temporary exhibits supported by NASA and others but we are opening new 3d IMAX film “Journey to Space’ its a 3D film and Imax film and there’s new exhibition Journey to Space that has the same name that has hands on opportunities for kids to understand what its like to try survive in space. They can operate the International Space Station, feel what it’s like to actually try to use the gloves that astronauts used, there’s an experience that pretty much simulates what it’s like to feel the disorientation of being in microgravity, the floating around and the room is spinning slowly around you. So we got all that replicated. It’s pretty neat.
QGITS: I heard that you were the one responsible for bringing Endeavour to the California Science Center?
Kenneth Phillips: It was a team effort because when I came here in 1990 I had wanted a shuttle and I figured they would retire the fleet at some point. So I went to my President Jeff Rudolph and asked if he would support me in going after it, and he said that he would, which was great. Pretty much, things got put to bed until President Bush retired the fleet in 2004 so there was kind of a long period of time where I just had to figure out what exhibits I was going to do, put on experimental galleries to do research on how people learn. So I could put together a credible proposal and content. Jeff supported me in writing the proposal. So I was tracking the orbiters and trying to assess who was likely to get an award and who wasn’t. The beginning of the game we thought that NASA would keep all of the flown orbiters and that only the enterprise which was for atmosphere test flight would be available for the rest of us. It turns out that wasn’t the case. NASA kept two essentially. The 3rd one was Endeavour and everybody was competing for it. So I got the authorization from Jeff to write the proposal and I did and submitted it. Then tracked the process had to resubmit a year later the original submission went in 2009. Then I just waited. NASA was really stone cold silent and I had no idea if whether we were going to be successful or not. They were totally poker faced about it. NASA would only answer questions through an e-mail channel that they set up. If there was back door politicking, I certainly was not involved in it, people above my pay rate may have been. Then we got the award on April 12th in 2011. I took the call from NASA Administrator Charley Bolden. He had a very bad morning that day because he had to call around the country and disappoint a lot of people. They were really beating up on him. When I asked him how he was doing he said he was not doing well because he was calling people with really bad news and that made me feel worried. But then he immediately said I have some excellent news for the California Science Center we have decided that we thought that you would really take great care of Endeavour. We had shown in the past to the Smithsonian and others that we can really take care of the national collection. So I felt that if we could show them that we took the collection seriously, and were willing to take care of it, go the extra mile to make sure we addressed all the conservation issues then maybe when it came time to decide who would get the orbiters and we would be awarded one.
It was an interesting process because up until Endeavour, all of the things in the national collection were on loan from the Smithsonian which is not the case with Endeavour. The Smithsonian declined to be the interface so they took Discovery which is the oldest orbiter of the fleet, it has the most miles and the most missions on it and said to people like me, if you want an orbiter NASA will be coming forward with a process but the Smithsonian will not get involved in it. So the award was directly from NASA to the California Science Center, which is why we own Endeavour.