Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Shuttle rides through LA streets

The space shuttle Endeavour makes its way down Manchester Boulevard in Los Angeles (AP)

The space shuttle Endeavour has continued through the streets of Los Angeles towards its retirement home at a museum.

Endeavour's final mission began when it departed from the Los Angeles International Airport before dawn on Friday, rolling on a 160-wheeled carrier past diamond-shaped "Shuttle Xing" signs.

On Friday evening it stopped as crews spent hours transferring the shuttle to a special, lighter towing dolly.

Then at around midnight, it travelled over a bridge across Interstate 405, an especially tricky part of the complicated journey because of the size of the space craft and width of the bridge.

The shuttle was pulled across the Manchester Boulevard bridge by a Toyota Tundra pickup, and the car company filmed the event for an advert after paying for a permit, turning the entire scene into a movie set complete with special lighting, sound and staging. Police stopped traffic on the motorway below for the duration of the traverse, which took about three minutes.

Crews preparing for the crossing had to take down power lines, leaving about 400 residents of surrounding Inglewood without power for what was expected to be several hours.

Once on the other side, crews began the lengthy process of returning it to the original carrier, before resuming its journey early on Saturday.

Another tricky part comes later in the day when Endeavour treks through a narrow residential street with apartment buildings on both sides. With its wings expected to intrude into driveways, residents have been told to stay indoors until the shuttle passes.

On Friday, hundreds of camera-toting spectators, some with pyjama-clad children in tow, gaped as the 170,000-pound (77,000-kilogram) Endeavour inched by with its tail towering over street lights and its wings spanning the roadway.

Over two days, it will trundle 12 miles at a top speed of 2mph to its final destination - the California Science Centre - where it will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit. It is expected to reach the museum sometime on Saturday evening. After an initial bumpy ride and a brief delay, the shuttle pulled off a massive feat of parallel parking by backing into a shopping centre car park for a layover as crowds cheered.

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