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$25 million gift to Science Center from Kent Kresa
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$25 million gift to Science Center from Kent Kresa

The California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center project has received a $25 million donation from aerospace leader Kent Kresa and the Kresa Family Foundation.

The gift comes as the science center prepares for the next stage of a complex, multi-phase process of assembling the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s 20-story vertical display. A pair of large solid rocket motors arrived on Oct. 11, and will be lifted into place in early November.

in September, the center announced a $25 million gift from Korean Air, and the latest donation means that $350 million has been raised toward the center’s$400 million Endeavour LA Campaign goal. In recognition of what center officials called a significant investment in science education, the science center will name the Kent Kresa Space Gallery, one of three galleries to be part of its 200,000 square-foot expansion, currently under construction.

“We are deeply grateful for this significant gift from a true leader and luminary in the aerospace field. Kent Kresa’s commitment, along with his family, is a testament to our shared belief in the power of science learning to transform lives, inspire new discoveries, and change the world for the better, “California Science Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rudolph said.

“This meaningful investment in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center will help theCalifornia Science Center to advance public understanding of science and technology in ways that are relevant to our lives and important to our future, “Rudolph added.

Said Kresa:“Southern California’s aerospace industry has been and continues to be at the forefront of innovation, dramatically improving our understanding of the world and the cosmos. Not only will the Kent Kresa Space Gallery be a place to learn about the science involved in these great advancements, it will encourage the young people who visit to dream about future possibilities. My gift to the California Science Center is an investment in our youth, to inspire them to be part of scientific pursuits and fuel tomorrow’s discoveries. “

Officials said Kresa has been involved in every major stage of the California Science Center’s evolution into a world-class educational resource and family destination, dating to the 1990s, when it was the California Museum of Science and Industry.

As former chairman, president and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corporation, he championed a longstanding relationship between the California Science Center and the corporation, which donated the solid rocket motors to be part of Endeavour’s full-stack vertical display.

Featuring interactive exhibits alongside an artifact collection, the Kent Kresa Space Gallery will examine how the machines built to explore space extend our reach and help transform our ideas about the universe and Earth. The gallery’s three prominent thematic areas will include Lift Off, Robotic Spacecraft and Telescopes, and Humans in Space. The center’s collection showcases examples of spacecraft from every stage of the U.S. human space program, including flown space capsules: the Mercury MR2, Gemini 11, and Apollo-Soyuz Command Module; along with an array of engineering models of planetary probes, telescopes and Earth observation spacecraft. The Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center that will house the Endeavour display will be constructed around it, with opening planned in 2025.The200,000-square-foot 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 for air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center that will house large-scale rotating exhibitions. Kent Kresa is chairman emeritus of Northrop Grumman Corporation. He was Northrop’s president from 1987 to 2001, chief executive officer from 1990 to 2003, and board chairman from 1990 to 2003.

After retiring from Northrop Grumman, in 2009 he was chosen by the Obama administration to become chairman of the board of General Motors and led the company through bankruptcy. Resa currently serves on the boards of MannKind Corporation, Systems Technology and Research Corporation, NuScale, Quantum Data Systems Corporation, and several nonprofit organizations, as well as the Keck Foundation.

He is also associated with Kairos Ventures. Resa’s awards for leadership include Forbes magazine’s “Company of the Year” recognition in December 2002; Aviation Week magazine’s 2002 Laurel Citation for achievements in aeronautics/propulsion; the Caltech Management Association’s Excellence in Management Award for demonstrating extraordinary vision and leadership; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his significant contributions to our nation’s heritage; the Howard Hughes Memorial Award for his contributions to the advancement of aviation and space technology; and his selection by Businessweek magazine as one of the nation’s top 25 managers for 2001. He was also named California Industrialist of the Year.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the past chairman of the board of governors of the Aerospace Industries Association, and chairman of the Defense Policy Advisory Committee on Trade, Kresa is also an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and was its president.

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