As shuttle Endeavour heads to the 405, fans stand on tiptoes
A stir went up among the crowd gathered in Westchester as the space shuttle Endeavour crept from its temporary parking space to resume its journey toward the California Science Center.
As the shuttle began to move, a noise like an engine starting up washed over the crowd. Children wearing school uniforms shouted excitedly.
As the nose of the shuttle crept onto La Tijera Boulevard, crowds lining both sides of the street leaned over the roped-off area, sometimes snapping photos and sometimes falling silent. As the shuttle crept by, the wings came within feet of the crowd and threw a shadow over the street.
In advance of this portion of the drive, crews widened the computerized transporters carrying Endeavour so they could travel over medians on Manchester Boulevard, said Marty Fabrick, who was hired by the California Science Center to orchestrate the move. While the shuttle sat, workers farther along the route de-energized a major power line at Manchester and Glasgow avenue, which cranes will lift in preparation for the five-story-tall shuttle to pass through.
From La Tijera, the shuttle will move east along Manchester. At Glasgow, just before the juncture with the 405, the shuttle will stop for six hours while crews lift it onto a dolly that will transport it across the freeway.
The specialized transporters carrying the shuttle are not on the California Department of Transportation's list of approved vehicles to travel over the bridge, which is why it will be moved to the dolly. Toyota donated a Tundra truck to help tug the shuttle over the bridge, and the company will film a commercial during this segment of the move.
Right at 1:30, the shuttle began to inch forward.
Michael McDermott, 51, who lives a few blocks from the parking lot at La Tijera and Sepulveda boulevards where the shuttle was parked, had rushed to the site right after his 12-year-old daughter Delaney got out of school.
"I heard it's leaving at 1:30 or 2," McDermott said. "I'm not sure which is right."
A few minutes later, he squinted to focus his eyes on the tail end of the shuttle and then he took a step toward it. He'd seen a slight shift. He tapped Delaney's left shoulder.
"It's moving right now -- look at the flag compared to the pole," McDermott said, referencing landmarks to gauge the shuttle's progress. "Wow, the thing's moving right now."
Delaney stood on her tiptoes to get a better view, then she pulled out her phone.
She fluttered her fingers over the keys, held the phone to her ear and relayed the message: "Hey, it's moving."
-- Kate Mather, and Andrew Khouri and Marisa Gerber in Westchester
Photo: Pedestrians can almost touch one of the wings as Endeavour passes by on La Tijera Avenue. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times