The space shuttle Endeavour’s flight over the skies of Southern California caused a stir among locals, but arguably just as highly anticipated was its land journey from LAX airport to the California Science Center near downtown Los Angeles. A 2012 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 4×4 played a brief but significant role in that journey, towing the historic shuttle toward its final home. The truck was purchased from a local area dealer, and was totally unmodified for the epic duty.
This is a change from earlier plans for the Tundra to tow the Endeavour closer to the Science Center, but for logistical reasons, the Manchester Bridge was determined to be a better choice. However, the change required some re-thinking of the weight distribution and other factors relating to the tow. The Endeavour itself weighs approximately 150,000 lb, about fifteen times the Tundra’s stock rated sustained maximum towing capacity. Combined with the accompanying specialized tow dollys, total weight approached 300,000 lb.
The Tundra was driven by Toyota professional driver Matt McBride, who was accompanied by Garrett Reisman, one of the astronauts aboard the orbiter when it traveled to the International Space Station in 2008. The trip across the bridge took a total of five minutes.
Both the truck and Endeavour will be part of a new permanent exhibit at the California Science Center which will open on October 30, 2012. The truck will replace an existing Tundra at the exhibit that demonstrates the physics of leverage. Toyota has been a partner of the Science Center since the early 1990s as part of its commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, science and technology.