Live discussion: Where to see the shuttle on route through L.A.
Getting the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center will be a tricky job for engineers, with some spots along the route just inches wider than the huge craft.
Times reporters Kate Mather, Angel Jennings and Nita Lelyveld will join city editor Shelby Grad at 2 p.m. PDT to discuss the Endeavour's journey through Los Angeles. From Mather's and Jennings' story today:
While Endeavour will travel at a top speed of only 2 mph, it will be forced to do some maneuvers as nerve-racking as any high-speed pursuit. At five stories tall and 170,000 pounds, the shuttle is so big that any shift in winds or unexpected weather could bring the move to a halt. At several points along the 12-mile route, the spacecraft will be inches away from buildings, even protruding onto driveways and over sidewalks.
And the girth of the shuttle and its transporting equipment is so enormous that the streets along the route had to be dotted with heavy steel.
Engineers concluded that the city streets could not support the weight — the equivalent of 30 elephants — so they gathered maps and blueprints to identify all the gas lines, sewers, water pipes, drainage systems and other utilities that needed protecting.
This week, workers installed nearly 2,700 large metal plates in strategic areas along the way. Each plate weighs as much as a small car. And officials had to truck them in from as far away as Arizona and Nevada to get enough for the project.
"The sheer number of the plates was surprising," said construction consultant Michael Volchok. "We've tapped out everything in Southern California."