Space shuttle: Endeavour prepares to cross 405
The space shuttle has one last mission to accomplish Friday: crossing the 405 Freeway. It is a delicate procedure. Caltrans barred Endeavour from moving across the overpass under the power of its special transporter system.
So instead, crews have jacked up the shuttle, removed the four self-propelled transporters that have been wheeling Endeavour through Los Angeles and Inglewood, and replaced them with a dolly. The shuttle will be moved across the freeway overpass at around 10 p.m. by a Toyota Tundra.
Officials said the dolly is less bulky than the trailers Endeavour usually sits on. As a result, Endeavour will be better able to maneuver through the narrow overpass.
"This thing is big and the road is narrow,” said Patrick Settle, chief executive officer of Sarens, the company hired to move the shuttle over city streets.
The Toyota Tundra will be pulling a total of 292,000 pounds, officials said. The company said Toyota has tested its Tundra three times leading up to this moment. The most recent test came about three weeks ago in Santa Fe Springs, with 20% more weight than what will be towed Friday night.
The company has a three-hour window between 9 p.m. and midnight to cross the bridge, said Toyota spokesman Russ Koble.
East of the shuttle, crowds were already gathering Friday night in anticipation of its passage.
As the intersection of Manchester Boulevard and Grevillea Avenue was closed to traffic, dozens of people parked strollers and lawn chairs, grabbing seats on the curb and playing catch on the closed road.
PHOTOS: Endeavour rolls through the streets of L.A.
"I wanted to see it up close," said Kiosha Thompson, 36, a social worker who was born and raised in Inglewood. "I'm excited that it's coming through our backyard."
Thompson's son was at basketball practice across the street at Inglewood High School. She had been waiting for the shuttle since about 4:30 p.m. and said she would stay until "it crosses my path."
"I told him I'll be across the street, looking for the shuttle," she said of her son.
Larue Williams, 54, lives down the street from the intersection. She held an American flag her granddaughter made.
Williams was at the Forum at 4:30 a.m. Friday, scouting out a spot for Saturday’s festivities at the location. Though the shuttle won't stop at the Forum until 9 a.m. Saturday, the public can line up as early as 4 a.m.
And Williams won't miss it.
"It's history," she said.
-- Joseph Serna and Kate Mather in Inglewood
Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour parks in front of Randy's Donuts on Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood on October 12, 2012. Randy's Donuts is owned by Larry and Ron Weintraub. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times