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Endeavour starts move to California Science Center, makes it over 405 Freeway

The shuttle Endeavour is seen outside Randy's Donuts before it treks across the Manchester bridge of the 405 Freeway on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012.
October 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Endeavour successfully made its tricky trek over the Manchester Bridge of the 405 Freeway Friday night towed by a pickup truck.

See an interactive map of Endeavour's route and viewing locations

The NASA mover that Endeavour had piggybacked on since it left Los Angeles International Airport late Thursday night was not approved to haul Endeavour over the Manchester overpass. To solve that problem, the nearly 300,000-pound Endeavour rode atop two trailers that were towed over the bridge by a Toyota Tundra pickup truck.

But before Endeavour embarked on that exciting move, it hung out with crowds of Angelinos outside of iconic Randy's Donuts for a few hours.

It's all part of Endeavour's final journey from LAX to the California Science Center. The shuttle began traveling to its second stop on Manchester between La Cienega Boulevard and Glasgow Avenue early Friday.

Longtime stuntman Matthew McBride was the driver of the Toyota Tundra, and says a lot of practice was required for the delicate move.

"We tested over and over to make sure it would do it. We've towed it up to 307,000 pounds, what we're towing here today is supposed to be 292,000," he said.

The shuttle left the airport at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to begin the historic two-day 12-mile journey. Endeavour was escorted by a security entourage as it moved across the tarmac. Officials said a minor problem with the shuttle's trailer caused a brief delay, but it was quickly repaired, and Endeavour reached the streets just after 2 a.m.

The spacecraft traveled slowly on the street and arrived at a private parking lot on La Tijera Boulevard at 5:45 a.m., where it stayed for about nine hours as crews dealt with obstacles like power lines farther ahead on the route.

Crews have to place massive steel plates over roads to support the shuttle, which weighs about the same as 30 elephants. Lincoln Boulevard was closed for hours as its median was removed and replaced to make way for the shuttle and its transporter.

Massive crowds gathered to marvel at a piece of American history, snapping photos and recording video.

See an interactive map of Endeavour's route and viewing locations along the way

"It feels like I'm being part of history," said Cameron Baker of Westchester. "I'm seeing history in the making."

One shuttle viewer named Janet, who joined throngs of people at the corner of Isis Avenue and Manchester Boulevard, recently had knee surgery. But that didn't stop her from being a witness to history.

"It's amazing that it's coming through here and it's a piece of history that I get to say in my lifetime that I've seen," she said.

As it turns out, Janet has a special connection to the aerospace industry, making the shuttle's trek extra meaningful.

"I've worked on many, many parts on the space shuttle program and the aerospace industry and being here to see the last one come through here is amazing."

Most of all, Janet said she was touched by the unity that has flourished with Endeavour's presence in Los Angeles.

"What amazes me is the freedom; only in America could you see something like this and everybody coming together and getting along. Just amazing," said Janet.

The shuttle was expected to travel eastbound, past the Forum, north on Crenshaw Boulevard, then down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It should get to the museum by about 9 p.m. Saturday.

The shuttle arrived in Los Angeles last month after doing flyovers across the country. It will be one of the largest objects to ever be transported on Los Angeles streets.

With Endeavour moving at 2 mph, residents can expect to see some traffic headaches. Officials are urging the public to stay away from the shuttle's route and view it at one of the designated viewing areas.

As Endeavour makes its way to the museum, about 400 Southern California Edison customers will lose power. Edison said they will be either using cranes to lift the wires up, or the shuttle will roll over them on the ground as it passes by.

The outages are expected to happen in the middle of the night or early morning. Edison said the outages won't be all at the same time, and those affected won't have their power out longer than four hours. Some traffic lights will also be out, but officials don't expect major problems. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said none of its customers will be affected.

See photos of Endeavour's historic move to the California Science Center

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