Friday, March 01, 2013

Top 10 Take Off on Outer Space Related Tourism Destinations in Los Angeles

Central Library Public Art - Earth
I was reading "What If We Made Space Travel Practical?" by Curtis Hill and I began to think about the top ten destinations in the Los Angeles area that could take you on a NASA inspired journey in greater Los Angeles.  Now Curtis Hill's theme of his just released book is how one could go about drastically reducing the cost for a reuseable spacecraft (the Star Horse Project concept) with a focus on weight reduction, and it was coincidental that this week, there was an announcement on a privately funded flyby space flight to Mars, and now another SpaceX flight to the orbiting space station. So with thanks to Curtis Hill for inspiration to write this post, and to encourage one to visit his website, where one might find out when he might be doing a presentation and book signing, I present to you the ExperienceLA top ten ways to reach for the stars in Los Angeles.

California Science Center in Exposition Park.  After the very slow journey of the space shuttle Endeavor from LAX that captured the imagination of Los Angeles, you now can see it on display at our very own space museum along with a visit to the IMAX theater to see the Hubble 3D telescope movie.  I have also seen its sister shuttle at the Air and Space Museum adjacent to Dulles Airport which is worth a visit when in the Dulles airport area. At a recent event, I had a chance to discuss Apollo and Space Shuttle heat shield technology with Jeff Rudolf, Executive Director of the Science Center in Exposition Park. In fact, Curtis Hill in his book discusses the evolution of this ceramic based heat shielding technology.

Griffith Observatory.  The City of Los Angeles did a remarkable job expanding and renovating this historic facility in Griffith Park overlooking Los Angeles.  The planetarium is worth a visit alone, but going up there at night, when there is something special to see with their telescope will create a lifelong memory, or any time when the sky is clear.   Telescope viewing until 9:45  pm, while observatory closes at 10 pm. But if you really want to see the stars, then check out these seven destinations in Southern California suggested by Zach Behrens from KCET who many years ago was an intern for the County of Los Angeles Art Commission who is a managing partner on the ExperienceLA project. If you hunt through Zach's many postings for KCET, you will see several suggestions for Star  festivals in these various desert locations. And perhaps the best star gaving location is Death Valley

Memorial to the Ellison S. Onizuka and the other Challenger astronauts in Little Tokyo. This monument using a Challenger model was recently renovated and has been in place for decades now.  Obviously a visit here, gives one a chance to explore Little Tokyo.  For coffee lovers, be sure and check out Demitasse Cafe which is right across from the Challenger memorial.  Among the best coffee houses in Los Angeles.
Little Tokyo Challenger Memorial
Helms Bakery District.  You say, how can this be related to the space program?  Well, on the Apollo 11 voyage to the moon, it just wasn't Tang that was taken to the Moon, it was also Helms Bread.  Now you can visit the design show rooms,  and then eat at Father's Office or Let's Be Frank, but to wonder how did Helms Bread end up on the 1969 moon landing.  I know that story, and it would be a separate blog post on its own.  You can ride the Metro Expo line and visit this destination  and downtown Culver City along with the Exposition Park Science Center.

Los Angeles Central Library and It's Rotunda Globe (see lead photo).  This is spectacular historic space, and I bet they have a great section on space related books inside the library, but seeing this piece of public art and the historic mural and other public art pieces is worth a visit to this famous Los Angeles landmark. Before you go, download the ExperienceLA Public Art application for Apple on Itunes and Google Play for Android mobile devices to explore all of the downtown Los Angeles public art locations. You might also want to plan your visit around one of the ALOUD author readings put on by the LA Library Foundation. Maybe a future panel will be centered on new books related to Space Travel which could feature Curtis Hill's book on "What IF We Made Space Travel Practical."

The Encounter LAX Theme Restaurant.  This recently renovated historic restaurant at LAX has always invoked a space theme and the Jetsons. So if at the airport, try and plan a visit to eat here either upon arrival or departure.  Also in the area, outside the airport, is the Proud Bird Restaurant, with its homage to aircraft, and ability to be near the jets landing at LAX.

Disneyland.  Yes it is expensive, but think about all of the fun, one can have with a focus on Tomorrowland with its Star Wars ride and Space Mountain, and visiting the Disney Museum on Main Street to see possibly the different historical nods to space travel over the years.  Since I am a big fan of Louisiana food, I would recommend a visit to Downtown Disney and eat at the Jazz Kitchen which is owned by the Brennan family that owns all of those famous New Orleans restaurants.  The food at this restaurant is much better then what one will find at Disney New Orleans Square restaurant inside the park.

Hollywood Cinerama Dome at the ArcLight Theaters.  Why does this make the list?  Kind of a stretch, but wouldn't 2001 and other great space movies look great on this screen.  The very first productions were for the cinerama technology that Lowell Thomas helped to make famous on his travelogues that debuted in this format.  This destination is the best place to see a movie in Los Angeles.  Get on the mailing list for special screenings at the Dome along with alerts for the new releases.  And Hollywood is only 30 minutes from Union Station (see below) on the Metro, where you can also find the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Get off at Hollywood and Vine Station for the ArcLight, then return to Hollywood Blvd for a walk looking at the Stars to the Chinese Theater where you can see imprints from the cast of Star Wars, and then get back on the Metro.
Avatar at the Dome
WP24.  Up on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton at LA Live, here is where you can get a sense of being above Los Angeles, just like landing at LAX.  Eating at  this Wolfgang Puck restaurant is really out of this world and fabulous but expensive, however, you can just go up for drinks and appetizers.  The views are incredible, and if you want more of being up high, and this time being outside, then check out The Perch also in downtown Los Angeles.

Union Station.  So the reader is asking, how might this be a space related destination.  For those who might have flown into Los Angeles, and are doing this without a car, you might have taken the Airport Flyer to Union Station, or even Metro on the Green,Blue, and Red Metro Subway lines.  It is conceivable that one day, this could be the jumping off spot for High Speed Rail that would connect Los Angeles to San Francisco.  Several decades ago, Governor Jerry Brown earned his nickname from Chicago Sun Times columnist, Mike Rothko, of Governor Moonbeam by proposing that the State of California launch a telecommunications satellite.  He was way ahead of his time, and now he is supporting the High Speed Rail project. And it is possible, that many years from now, a High Speed Rail line could connect to a space port.  Anyway, Union Station is another historic facility, an iconic art deco structure, and well worth a visit in its own right, as a jumping off place to explore Downtown Los Angeles.

Then there are the following events.

JPL Open House on June 8th and 9th, 2013.  On this one you need to plan in advance for your visit  to the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. It will be worth it, and the event is free.  Everyone knows about JPL and its association with NASA.  So here is a chance to see what they are up to now. And did you know that they make their own olive oil from the trees on campus. It has become an annual fundraiser.

Kronos Quartet Performing the Sun Rings at CSULB Carpenter Center on March 23, 2013.  If you miss this performance, then you will have to track down Kronos Quartet to see when this is being performed again, or just watch one of several 15 minute clips on YouTube.  Tickets are on sale now and most likely will sell out.

All Day Los Angeles Space Tourism Society Symposiums on March 2 and June 29, 2013.  This all day seminar is being given twice at a hotel near LAX.  Cost is $175.  They have some very interesting speakers lined up.

So this has been the do it on your own, space related tourism in Los Angeles.  But if money is no object, one can pay for a deluxe custom tour from the Space Tourism Society over a one week period that includes a couple of these destinations on my list, along with personalized tours of many other places that contributed to our efforts thus far in Space travel.    The first one is from March 2 to 8, 2013, and the second opportunity is from June 29 - July 5, 2013. The cost is $3,678 and is up close and very personable.

So blast off with these Los Angeles area Space-related destinations and events, and take a few minutes to listen to Curtis Hill on his website as to how the Star Horse Project could make space travel affordable and practical which could stimulate our economy with new technology.  If you do decide to pick up a copy of the book, you will find it very readable, thought provoking, and highly educational.

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