Endeavour begins morning commute
Shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday, Endeavour was on the move again after successfully crossing the 405 Freeway overnight.
The shuttle is headed to its home at the California Science Center.
There are two designated viewing spots in Inglewood. Endeavour is expected to pass Inglewood City Hall around 8 a.m. and then rest at the Forum between 9 and 9:30 in the morning.
By 4:25 a.m., die-hard shuttle fans had already parked, unpacked their blankets, grabbed some coffee from one of the on-site food trucks and cozied into the Forum's parking lot.
Csilla Csori's day started at 12:30 a.m. She got up, left her home in San Diego, swung by Temecula to pick up her friend and her friend's son and then headed to the Inglewood parking lot where Endeavour would make a morning pitstop.
"I didn't sleep," Csori, 40. "I took a nap on the sofa."
For Csori and her college friend, Brandy Carter, 37, Saturday was a peek back at another shuttle-related, drive-through-the-middle-of-the-night adventure.
During their college years at American University in Washington, D.C., the duo took a road trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch a launch of the shuttle Columbia.
"We've seen them launch and it's incredible," Carter said. "Now we're seeing the end, which is both awesome and sad."
For Carter's 7-year-old son Logan, 5 a.m. was a strange combination of grogginess and anticipation.
The early morning trek was a surprise and his mom and her friend took steps not to give him too many hints.
"I do know it's a show, not a game. That's all," Logan said as he rested his small hands on top of his yellow Cub Scouts cap.
Unlike Logan, Alex Jarus, a 16-year-old from Manhattan Beach, knew exactly why he woke up at 4 a.m. and braved the cold morning in the parking lot.
He'd been planning to see Endeavour since the move was first announced, he said.
He spent the last few days anxiously waiting -- and relentlessly reminded.
"It's all over the social networks," Jarus said. "Everywhere."
About 10 a.m., Endeavour will begin perhaps the most hair-raising part of its journey when it travels along Crenshaw Drive. The shuttle will come within inches of apartment buildings on either side of the street.
And not only will it be a tight squeeze, but Endeavour will also be moving uphill.
"It's a very narrow stretch for us," said Marty Fabrick, hired by the California Science Center to orchestrate the move. "Our wings will be over some driveways."
To give it as much room as possible, advance crews will lay down a compacted base of material that will level the street so it is the same height as the sidewalk.
A second team will then immediately scoop up the material from the road.
Because the shuttle needs every millimeter of space for clearance, Los Angeles police said officials they planned to close most sidewalks along the route. However, officials said this week that some may be opened along the way for public viewing.
After crawling up Crenshaw Boulevard, the shuttle will reach Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard around 2 p.m. A celebration is planned by choreographer Debbie Allen. Public safety officials have said the area will accommodate a few thousand people at most, so those interested in seeing Endeavour and the show should arrive early.
The final tricky move will be along Martin Luther King. Pines planted in honor of the slain civil rights leader were deemed too significant to cut down, as many were along the transport route, and because the trees dot both sides of the roadway, the shuttle will pivot -- crab-like -- to avoid any mishaps.
"Don't think of the shuttle going nose-first down every street," said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman. "That shuttle has the ability to zigzag and maneuver, and that's what you're going to see along that route. There may be places where the shuttle is going sideways at an angle."
The final chance to see the shuttle will be along Bill Robertson Lane as it approaches the science center's Samuel Oschin display pavilion in Exposition Park about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Police said four parking lots between Bill Robertson and Vermont Avenue will be available to the public.
However, officials were hoping that the shuttle could arrive ahead of schedule, before sunset, which occurs at 6:20 p.m. Saturday.
-- Marisa Gerber, Kate Mather, Angel Jennings and Joseph Serna
Photo: Clayton Collins, 6, of Westchester, sits atop his dad's shoulders to get a good view of the Space shuttle Endeavour parked in front of Randy's Donuts on Friday. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times