Space shuttle Endeavour was wheeled into the Forum parking lot Saturday in Inglewood, surrounded by a throng of adoring fans, and readied for its final ride down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Escorted by fire trucks, electric crews and a squad of just-in-case tree trimmers, the latest Southern California sensation made its drive-by past the
Inglewood City Hall without delay as the sun rose. It actually arrived at the
Forum about 45 minutes early, but was to be held there until its scheduled
creep east on Manchester Boulevard.
Friday's nights tiptoe over the San Diego (405) Freeway -- which
required unloading from its transporter device and a brief tow from a pickup
truck -- was accomplished without a hitch, organizers said.
The 170,000 pound shuttle is atop four self-propelled trailers, weighing
about 300,000 pounds gross. That was too much for Caltrans, so Endeavour was towed over the 405 by a Toyota pickup truck, with video cameras rolling for TV commercials.
Jeffrey Rudolph, the president and chief executive of the California Science Center, called Friday's leg of the move "a great start.'"
"Everything is really going according to plan, exactly as we hoped
for," he said.
The former spacecraft is scheduled to creep at 2 miles per hour east --
and up a slight hill -- on Manchester Boulevard, then north on Crenshaw Place
and Crenshaw Boulevard. It is scheduled to roll in about 2 p.m. Saturday to the
corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, where it will endure
speeches by city officials.
Parking lots will be made available for spectators, as the orbiter rolls
into Exposition Park Saturday night. Four lots will be open between Bill Robertson Lane and Vermont Avenue north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
Metro will add extra Expo Line trains to Exposition Park, from Culver
City and downtown Los Angeles, and Expo trains will be on 6-minute intervals.
Free park-and-ride is available at Metro garages at La Brea Avenue and La
Cienega Boulevard, and a large lot at the Culver City station.
Metro subway trains will run with extra cars from 2 until 11 p.m.
to allow transfer to the Expo Line at Seventh at Figueroa streets. Gold Line
trains will also have extra cars, to allow connections to the subway and then
the Expo Line.
At the California Science Center, the shuttle will be on public display
beginning Oct. 30.
--City News Service