The Norman Transcript

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October 13, 2012

Shuttle crossing

(Continued)

LOS ANGELES —

After a nine-hour layover, Endeavour hit the streets Friday afternoon toward the suburb of Inglewood, home of the iconic Randy’s Donuts shop. As it rolled past front lawns, some homeowners climbed on their roofs for a better view.

The shuttle will take another hours-long break as crews re-route power lines, causing temporary outages to several hundred homes. It will later be transferred to a special dolly towed by Toyota pickup truck for the move over Interstate 405. The automaker received a permit to film a commercial.

Shuffling a five-story-tall shuttle through urban streets was an undertaking that took nearly a year to plan. Because the 78-foot wingspan hangs over sidewalks in some locations, police enforced rolling street and sidewalk closures along the route.

The limited access frustrated some businesses that counted on huge crowds lining the curbs to boost business.

Saturday is typically the busiest day for James Fugate, who co-owns Eso Won Books in South Los Angeles. But with Endeavour expected to pass through, Fugate braced for a ho-hum day in sales.

“We don’t close because we’re slow. That’s when you pull out a book to read,” he said.

The baby of the shuttle fleet, Endeavour replaced Challenger, which exploded during liftoff in 1986, killing seven astronauts. It thundered off the launch pad 25 times, orbited Earth nearly 4,700 times and racked up 123 million miles.

Transporting Endeavour required a specialized carrier typically used to haul oil rigs, bridges and heavy equipment. The wheels can spin in any direction, allowing the shuttle to zigzag past obstacles. An operator walks alongside, controlling the movements via joystick. Several spotters along the wings are on the lookout for hazards.

Before Endeavour could travel through the streets, some 400 trees were chopped down, cable and telephone lines were hoisted, and steel plates were laid down to protect the streets and underground utilities.

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