UPDATE: Due to logistical reasons, the Toyota Tundra pick-up hauled shuttle Endeavour over the Manchester Boulevard bridge, crossing the 405 freeway on Friday evening — as opposed to the planned Saturday night tow as originally reported in this blog.
Discovery News reader John Decker photographed the event as the Tundra and Endeavour rolled across the bridge (above). Also, a video of the event can be viewed below.
After complications along the route, Endeavour rolled into the California Science Center a day late, at 10:45 a.m. PDT Monday. The delay was caused by trees blocking the shuttle’s passage and maintenance on the Over Land Transporter.
ORIGINAL POST (Oct. 13): Shuttle Endeavour is currently making a big splash on the streets of Los Angeles as it gets transferred from LAX to the California Science Center (CSC) — navigating 12 miles of streets, boulevards and stop signs. But the task is by no means a simple matter of logistics; this is a mission unto itself with excitement that surpasses even the best Hollywood thriller.
And like any movie, this adventure is about to have a memorable finale. During the final 400 meters of its trek, Endeavour’s computerized Over Land Transporter (that was used to carry the shuttle for the majority of its journey from LAX) will be disengaged and a 2012 Toyota Tundra CrewMax pickup truck will be used to haul the shuttle, ensuring Endeavour arrives at its retirement home in style.
“We’re moving something that the people of the United States have been watching for years — a national icon,” says Greg Bryant, Toyota’s Engineering Consultant, in a company video documenting the event. “But it’s really heavy and it’s also quite big.”
As the Tundra — which sports a powerful 5.7L V8 engine — will make the attempt in front of a live audience this evening, they had to ensure everything will go as planned. One test (documented in the video below) showed the Tundra being prepared to tow over 300,000 pounds (150 tons) of concrete and trailer in Lodi, Calif. On paper, the maximum towing capacity of a Tundra is 10,000 pounds (5 tons), so this is an opportunity to exhibit the “overbuilt” design of this powerful vehicle.
“There is no larger or more recognizable icon of the U.S. space program’s success than the shuttle, and to have it towed by the Toyota Tundra is not only an incredible example of the capabilities of the truck, but an honor to be part of history,” said Ed Laukes, Toyota Motor Sales’ Vice President of Marketing Communications. “The entire journey is something the world will be watching, and gives us a chance to prove that the ‘overbuilt’ Tundra is built to do any job — even tow the space shuttle.”
Toyota’s involvement in Endeavour’s trip to the CSC isn’t only a fantastic marketing boost — it’s an opportunity to provide support and raise awareness of the US space program by educating the public through exhibits and other activities. Toyota has also pledged to donate $50 for the first 10,000 mentions on Twitter their “Tundra Endeavour” website detects. Funds raised will support the building of the CSC’s Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, the permanent home for Endeavour.
Frustratingly, I can’t be at my home in LA to watch the final leg of Endeavour’s historic haul through the city, so if you are fortunate to catch a glimpse of the shuttle and have a photo you want to share, I will feature it in a special readers’ photo slide show of the event on Discovery News. Just leave a comment below including your name, location and link to the photo. Extra kudos will go to whoever gets photos of the Toyota Tundra pulling the shuttle!
Image: Top: Tundra and Endeavour crossing the 405 freeway on Friday night. Credit: John Decker. Bottom: On Friday evening, shuttle Endeavour rolled past LA landmark Randy’s Donuts just before the Toyota Tundra started its haul. Credit: CORBIS