LOS ANGELES (CBS) – It flew over the skies of Sacramento on its farewell flight, and now with much fanfare and a huge crowd of onlookers expected, the space shuttle Endeavour is about to start its two-day parade through the streets of Los Angeles.
Twenty-five flights. Nearly 123 million miles flown. But this final road trip for Endeavour will be the most unique journey any shuttle has ever taken.
Here, they are calling it Mission 26. In the very early morning hours Friday, Endeavour, sitting on a transporter, will leave Los Angeles International Airport for the two-day, 12-mile stroll through the streets of L.A. and Englewood. F
Its final, permanent destination is the California Science Center. Endeavour will pass by Randy’s Donut Shop, a 35-year institution here. Of course, they’ve battered up shuttle donuts.
And they look just like space shuttles. Well, kind of like a space shuttle.
“Actually, it should because it came from a space shuttle mold,” donut shop owner Larry Weintraub said. “But it’s pretty neat isn’t it?”
Getting ready for the event has been a monumental, sometimes controversial undertaking. Because the shuttle is so wide, trees along the route had to be trimmed and hundreds cut down. The science center promises to replace each one with two. City crews removed low overhanging signs, and steel plates were place over weak spots in the road.
Before they can go any farther passed Randy’s, they’ve got to take down some light poles. Then once they do that, they’ve got to cross a bridge over the 405 Expressway. How’s Endeavour going to get across the bridge? They’re going to tow it with a pickup truck.
Toyota executives gathered Thursday near the 405 to work out details. The company claims a 20-year relationship with the science center landed them the PR opportunity of a lifetime.
“So you know how much a space shuttle weighs?” we asked Toyota’s Russ Koble.
“I do,” he said. “It’s about 145,000 pounds.”
“So, you’re going to pull the space shuttle and the support that it’s riding on with a Toyota Tundra?”
“Yes we are. Yes, the support mechanism is about the same weight so were actually at about 270,000 pounds total moving that with a half-ton Toyota Tundra.”
Koble says they might use the video of the bridge tow for a commercial. You think? More than 1 million people are expected to turn out for an event you can safely say you’ll never see again.