As it turns out, transporting a space shuttle through city streets is a "Big Endeavour."
Space shuttle Endeavour, the youngest of NASA's retired orbiters, will depart later this week on a road trip from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to its new exhibition at the California Science Center (CSC). The two-day, 12-mile (19 kilometer) journey follows Endeavour's delivery to L.A.atop a jumbo jet last month.
The move, which will begin hours before dawn on Friday morning (Oct. 12) and end after nightfall the next day has been dubbed "Mission 26: The Big Endeavour." While it was in service to NASA, Endeavour flew 25 missions to space between 1992 and 2011.
Mission 26 will take Endeavour through Inglewood and Los Angeles, including passing over the freeway, and pausing for celebrations outside the former indoor arena of the Los Angeles Lakers and at a street intersection where "Fame" actress Debbie Allen has choreographed a tribute.
Endeavour will make the journey atop a modified NASA overland transporter, driven most of the time by four self-powered, computer-controlled vehicles. For a brief stretch though, the shuttle will be towed by a stock Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
Despite being initially promoted by Los Angeles' mayor as the "mother of all parades," the logistics of transporting a spacecraft with a 78-foot (24 meter) wingspan and a 58-foot-tall (18 meter) tail required the police to shut down streets and sidewalks, limiting public viewing to only a few designated areas along the route. Still, tens of thousands of residents and visitors are expected turn out to witness Endeavour's slow trek to its new home.
Turn left at Exposition Park
Endeavour is scheduled to depart LAX airport property at around 2 a.m. PDT (5 a.m. EDT; 0900 GMT) Friday (Oct. 11). The first day of the move will be punctuated by short drives and long stops as crews work to raise power lines between the airport and the overpass that the shuttle will cross over the freeway. [Map: Mission 26: The Big Endeavour]
Endeavour will take Westchester Boulevard to Sepulveda, where it will make its first extended stop for about nine hours in a parking lot as the first set of transformer lines are de-energized and raised. That afternoon, Endeavour will continue down Manchester Boulevard, crossing into Inglewood and stopping for another six hours as its path is cleared.
Out of safety concerns involving the power line work, Los Angeles and Inglewood police departments have said that public viewing will be limited on Friday until Endeavour's overnight crossing of the 405 is completed.
Originally, the plan was for Toyota to lend one of its stock Tundra trucks to tow the shuttle on its last quarter-mile (400 meters) to the science center. Instead, the pickup will be used to move Endeavour over the freeway due to its computer-driven transporters not being cleared for use on the overpass.
By Saturday morning at around 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT; 1500 GMT), Endeavour should be passing by Inglewood City Hall, where it was initially expected to stop. The city hall grounds should still offer plenty of opportunities for the public to see the shuttle on the move, but it will continue on its way to The Forum for a ceremony that will 'launch' Endeavour's final journey.
The Inglewood Police Department said it is expecting between 10,000 and 14,000 people to attend the event at the arena.