Space Shuttle Endeavour Headed for Display at USC School of Theatre Thanks to Alumnus LeVar Burton
The USC Theatre School is a dark horse winner in the sweepstakes for NASA’s retiring shuttles. With the Shuttle Discovery all but certain to go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, competition was rampant among other aerospace-themed institutions for shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis. Front-runners included New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The shuttle Enterprise, currently housed at the Smithsonian’s Steven Udvar-Hazy Flight Center, will likely be donated to another museum once Discovery arrives.
Efforts to secure a shuttle for the University were conducted between Mr. Burton and NASA officials in total secrecy, according to space agency sources. Burton, most famous for his role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as host of the PBS children’s show Reading Rainbow, has paid NASA’s requisite $30 million processing and delivery fee to prepare the ship and fly it to Los Angeles on a Boeing 747 Shuttle Transporter.
USC officials were caught off guard by the plan, which they only learned about upon our contacting them for comment today. “While we appreciate the success of space shuttle program and we’re proud of LeVar Burton’s post-USC career, we are not quite sure what to do with a space shuttle,” said USC School of Theatre Dean Madeline Puzo. “I guess it would make a nice prop for performances of certain shows, like an space-age version of The Pirates of Penzance, but I don’t know if it will even fit in any of our theatres.”
Upon closer review, Ms. Puzo seems to be well based in her apprehension, as the 122-foot-long orbiter would be too large to wedge onto the Bing Theatre’s 80-foot-wide stage.
When reached for comment, Burton refused to confirm or deny the reports, saying only, “Space shuttles are awesome, but you don’t have to take my word for it.”