This is being written on the day of Neil Armstrong’s memorial service, September 13, 2012. It seems somehow appropriate that today is the day Toyota announced that a stock Tundra pickup will be towing the space shuttle Endeavor to its final resting place in Los Angeles next month. It is truly a day of mourning for the once-mighty U.S. space program.
Space shuttle Endavor at the end of the road
On October 13 the Endeavor will take a 12 mile road trip from LAX to Exposition Park. A full size 2012 Tundra will then hitch up to the nearly 300,000-pound Endeavor and tow it the last leg of the journey to the California Science Center.
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Toyota, in an arrangement with the California Science Center, has a stock 2012 Tundra CrewMax 1/2–ton pickup on display at the museum now, getting some publicity mileage out of it’s historical charge.
Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing communications at Toyota Motor Sales, said in a news release.
“There is no larger or more recognizable icon of the U.S. space program’s success than the shuttle, and to have it towed by the Toyota Tundra is not only an incredible example of the capabilities of the truck, but an honor to be part of history. The entire journey is something the world will be watching, and gives us a chance to prove that the ‘overbuilt’ Tundra is built to do any job –- even tow the space shuttle.”
Normally, a Tundra, with its 5.7-liter V8 engine and 10,000 towing limit, would be vastly inadequate for the job. However, the Endeavor has been fitted with a specially-designed dolly, making the task feasible. And its not like the Endeavor has to be hauled by Toyota to Atlanta. It just has to go a quarter of a mile through Exposition Park.
Other mothballed shuttles
The Endeavor is the fourth mothballed space shuttle to find a permanent home in a museum. Before it, the Discovery took up residency at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. The Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. And the Enterprise found its final frontier at the Sea-Air Space Museum in New York City.
The final route of the journey has not been announced, but with traffic the way it is normally on the 405 and the 110, LA commuters may want to take a day off or find a circuitous route on October 13. This is going to be one wide load. The shuttle’s wingspan is more than 78 feet. The average lane of a highway is only 12 feet wide.
According to Slashgear, some old growth trees were cut down along the route in preparation for the journey, raising the ire of many local residents.