Spaceflight Now

Crowds cheer as Endeavour traverses though Los Angeles

Posted: October 12, 2012

One day down, one more to go in space shuttle Endeavour's surreal trek through Los Angeles, a scene attracting thousands of spectators young and old along city sidewalks and erupting chants of "USA! USA! USA!"

Endeavour traverses along LAX. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now
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By late afternoon Friday, the spaceship procession had reached the second of its pre-planned stopping points, the latest coming just before the 405 overpass on Manchester Ave. at the iconic Randy's Donuts.

"I don't know how many times I've drove through this intersection going back and forth to LAX. If you told me one day Endeavour would be sitting here next to Randy's Donuts, I'd say you were crazy, but here she is. It is weird, very, very weird, but also really, really cool," said former NASA astronaut and Endeavour crew member Garrett Reisman, who now lives in Los Angeles as a SpaceX employee working on safety and mission assurance.

The trip appears to be going smoothly following its departure from Los Angeles International Airport at 2 a.m. local time Friday. The first pause came in a shopping plaza parking lot where the overland transporter was reconfigured from the narrow stance to the wide mode for straddling the roadway medians. Power crews also put final steps in work downrange for moving wires out of the space shuttle's path.

The convoy of vehicles driving along with the orbiter include tree-trimming vehicles, staff from an engineering firm and the transporter company, a bucket truck for reaching heights and workers from local utilities.

Law enforcement has a very visible presence as well, keeping the space shuttle safe while giving the public an extraordinary look at the national treasure.

Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now
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A late-night event at the 405 overpass with Toyota attracted an enormous crowd that gathered on both sides of the street to watch a 2012 Tundra pickup truck with a standard 5.7L V8 engine tow Endeavour across the freeway. The moment was filmed by the car company, which is donating up to $500,000 to the California Science Center.

The truck was driven by a stunt man and Reisman rode in the passenger seat.

"I'm really happy Endeavour is here in LA and I can take my son to go visit Daddy's rocketship anytime," he said. The astronaut flew to the International Space Station aboard Endeavour's STS-123 mission in 2008 to begin a 95-day stay on the orbiting outpost, his first voyage in space.

After getting to the east side of 405, another multi-hour stop began to switch Endeavour back to the motorized transporter dollies from the undercarriages that had been temporarily installed for the Tundra pull.

We are posting updates as events occur in our mission status center journal.

Mobile pictures and quick updates will be posted on our Facebook page!

Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now
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The outpouring of interest by the shuttle's arrival in Los Angeles has been remarkable, Reisman added.

"It's awesome because of the reaction to the end of the shuttle program has been kind of negative...but the thing is here today and when they did the flyovers and the landing at LAX it has been nothing but pride and optimism," he said.

"It's been a real celebratory mood, look at all these people, there's not lined up like they're at a funeral. They are lined up like they're at a party. There's a lot of patriotism, and that surprised me how deep that emotion would go. It's been all positive."

Saturday morning will see Endeavour pass through Inglewood, going by the city hall and stopping for a public welcoming event at the Great Western Forum.

The City of Inglewood has posted a viewing guide for recommended locations and the restricted areas to avoid.

Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now
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Arrival at the California Science Center is expected around 9 p.m. local as the space shuttle retirement process marks another milestone.

"This represents the end of an era. We are taking the shuttles and rolling into museums, and there's a sense of mortality with that. You can't help but feel a little old when the vehicle you flew in is being rolled into a museum. That doesn't make you feel very youthful," Reisman said.

"But at the same time I'm also very engaged in a whole new era of spaceflight, and I'm very excited about that. That's the whole reason why I left NASA to come out here was because I saw what was coming next, and I'm excited about it and wanted to be part of it."