Endeavour: Shuttle's predicted arrival now later than 5 a.m.
After a daylong series of delays stemming from trees bordering the street and a particularly narrow stretch of road, the space shuttle Endeavour is not expected to arrive at its final destination until after 5 a.m. Sunday.
The shuttle, now at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Leimert Park, will turn right onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard sometime before midnight. It will then creep along in the predawn darkness, never exceeding 1 mph, for the last leg of its final journey,
“It’s not the turning--the turning is easy. We can turn this thing 360 degrees in place if we have to,” said Ken Carrion, project manager for Sarens, the company controlling the transporters on which Endeavour rests. “it’s limited visibility. Even though we have light, it’s not the same as daylight.”
The main issues in the final stretch of the trip are visibility in the darkness and the row of tall pine trees lining MLK Boulevard.
Officials decided those trees, planted to honor the slain civil rights leader, were too important to cut down in preparation for Endeavour’s final trip. So the shuttle will undergo crab-like movements to avoid striking the pines and make its way east toward the California Science Center.
Just after 9 p.m., Sarens and its subcontractors began arranging eight giant blue steel supports underneath the shuttle. The supports -– 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall -– will take the weight off the conveyance under the shuttle as Sarens repositions the rollers.
The rollers, which had been widened to accommodate medians must be shifted inward to accommodate the narrower curbs along King Boulevard. The rollers and the steel supports typically carry industrial equipment much heavier than Endeavour, and will have no problem holding up the shuttle’s 170,000-pound frame, Carrion said.
“It’s so light, so light,” he said. “The rollers are only operating at 22% capacity.”
[For the Record, 4:45 p.m. Oct. 14: An earlier version of this post misspelled Ken Carrion's name as Ken Carryion.]
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-- Joseph Serna in Leimert Park
Photo: Crews work to remove the bolts securing the rollers to the shuttle's steel gurney supporting its trip to the California Science Center. Credit: Joseph Serna / Los Angeles Times