Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Space shuttle Endeavour successfully crosses 405 Freeway

October 13, 2012 | 12:00 am


The space shuttle Endeavour has successfully crossed the 405 Freeway, pulled across the overpass by a silver Toyota Tundra and watched by hundreds of excited space fans.

Lit by skyward-facing lights, it took the 85-ton shuttle just about three minutes to cross on an overpass above one of the nation’s busiest freeways -- a complicated maneuver because of the sheer size of Endeavour and the narrow bridge.

Hundreds of people hollered as the Tundra moved along the center of the overpass, and crowds on the eastern edge of the 405 erupted in cheers when it arrived around 11:39 p.m. Friday. One man staying at a multistory Best Western motel sat with his legs dangling out the window to enjoy the spectacle.

FULL COVERAGE: Endeavour's move through L.A.

And everyone -- including Edison utility workers and police officers -- instantly lifted their camera phones up to snap a shot of history.

About an hour before the move, crews finished some last-minute tree trimming and Edison workers raised some overhead power lines to allow the tail of Endeavour, which stands 57 feet tall, to pass underneath.

The California Highway Patrol temporarily stopped traffic on the 405 Freeway for the duration of the move.

PHOTOS: Endeavour rolls through the streets of L.A.

The move of Endeavour across the 405 was complicated because the California Department of Transportation did not allow the shuttle to be moved across the overpass by the power of its special transporter system.

So, to make its way over the relatively narrow overpass, crews jacked up the shuttle, removed the four self-propelled transporters that had been wheeling Endeavour all day Friday, and replaced them with a dolly. The dolly is less bulky and more maneuverable in a tight area, officials said.

"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, before the move. 

TIMELINE: Endeavour's journey through L.A.

The company has moved equipment this big before, "but nothing as precious as this," he said. "With something like this, there was a lot of sweaty palms last night when we left the hangar. It probably had to do with it being so patriotic and a 30-year program coming to an end."

The Toyota Tundra pulled a total of 292,000 pounds, which includes the weight of the yellow frame supporting Endeavour’s belly, officials said. The company said Toyota had tested its Tundra three times leading up to the moment. The most recent test came about three weeks ago in Santa Fe Springs, with 20% more weight than what was being towed Friday night. 


Space shuttle: Endeavour has arrived at 405 Freeway

Endeavour readied for Hollywood closeup in Toyota commercial

For Toyota driver, towing shuttle over 405 was 'icing on the cake'

-- Joseph Serna in Inglewood