Endeavour: Toyota truck to tow space shuttle over L.A. bridge
The space shuttle Endeavour. Brought to you by Toyota?
A specialized robotic transporter will carry the space shuttle most of the way between Los Angeles International Airport and its permanent home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park next week during a two-day, 12-mile trek through city streets.
But because the transporter is not on the Caltrans list of vehicles approved for towing over bridges, Toyota stepped in, volunteering a Tundra truck to tow Endeavour across the 405 Freeway on West Manchester Boulevard, said William Harris, senior vice president of development and marketing at the Science Center. A special dolly will be used to help the truck with the haul.
It's a scene that seems made for a commercial. And it may well end up in one — the automaker plans to film the truck during its portion of the move.
One Toyota official said the event is "a great opportunity for Tundra and the Toyota brand." Jaymie Robinson, a public relations strategist for Toyota, said the company is looking at all of its marketing options, "a commercial being one of them."
Toyota is not paying the Science Center to shoot a commercial, according to Michael Rouse, Toyota's vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs.
But he said the car company has donated $8 million to $10 million to the Science Center since the early 1990s and has contributed "seven figures" to the museum's current expansion efforts, which include building an exhibit space for the Endeavour.
Toyota has made next week's affair a major marketing event, with a special Tundra Endeavour website devoted to the truck as it "tows its way into history."
When it has been relieved of its load, the Tundra used to haul the space shuttle will be displayed inside the museum.
— Andrew Blankstein and Kate Linthicum
Photo: Space shuttle Endeavour arrived at the United hangar at Los Angeles International Airport from Florida on Sept. 21. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times