Endeavour: Limited public access as shuttle moves through L.A.
A week before space shuttle Endeavour begins its 12-mile crawl through Los Angeles, officials said the public will have limited access during the two-day trek to the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
They said access would be limited for safety reasons. The shuttle has been sitting in a hangar at Los Angeles International Airport since Sept. 21, when it arrived on the back of a modified Boeing 747.
Now positioned on specialized, computerized transporters, Endeavour is scheduled to roll out of the United Airlines hangar at midnight Friday and begin creeping toward its permanent home at the science center.
Although the shuttle embarked on an elaborate aerial tour of the southern United States, California and Los Angeles en route to LAX, officials said they are trying to keep the last leg of Endeavour's journey much more low-key.
Unlike L.A.'s other parades—such as the Kings' celebration through downtown Los Angeles this summer — the sheer size of the 78-foot-wide, 170,000 pound shuttle causes concern. Streets and sidewalks will be closed about a mile ahead of the shuttle as it lumbers along the route.
"For the safety of the public, we can't have them in a certain area of the wingspan just in case something does happen," Lopez said. "That is the big difference. For parades that we publicize, we set up for sidewalk viewing. In this case, we just cannot accommodate that."
By 2 p.m. Friday, the shuttle will depart down Manchester Boulevard toward the City of Inglewood. LAPD will hand security over to Inglewood police when Endeavour crosses city limits about 4:15 p.m, Lopez said.
The shuttle will make another six-hour stop in Inglewood as crews work on another transformer and should cross the 405 Freeway Friday night.
The orbiter will pass Inglewood City Hall about 8 a.m. Saturday, Lopez said. Inglewood officials said that although Endeavour will not stop at City Hall as originally planned — the public celebration has instead been moved to the Forum — those hoping to see the shuttle could anticipate ample parking and plenty of space at City Hall.
An hour later, Endeavour will make a 30-minute stop at the Forum, where crowds of 10,000 to 14,000 people are anticipated. Officials said more details about the stop would be revealed in the coming days.
Endeavour will cross back into Los Angeles city limits about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Lopez said, and at about 2 p.m. will stop at the intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards for another planned public viewing. Actress and choreographer Debbie Allen organized an event for the intersection, but Lopez said there would be room for only about 1,500 spectators.
The best chance to get a view of Endeavour outside of the Forum, Lopez said, would be as it arrived at the California Science Center. The shuttle is expected to complete the move and reach its Exposition Park home on Saturday night.
— Kate Mather