Journey of shuttle Endeavour through Los Angeles begins
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: October 12, 2012
After flying in space 25 times and logging 123 million miles, the final journey of the shuttle Endeavour that promises to be a grand spectacle got underway today as the retired spaceplane began a 12-mile procession through the city streets of Los Angeles.
"These vehicles have never been been in a mass population like that before, in a somewhat uncontrolled environment. That makes me a little nervous. California Science Center, they respect and love these vehicles just as much as we do, so they are going to do everything they can and need to do to protect them," Stephanie Stilson, the NASA official in charge of decommissioning the space shuttle orbiters, said in a recent interview.
"Nearly 700 Los Angeles Police Department's Cadets and volunteers from throughout the community have been dedicated to assist with ensuring Endeavour reaches its destination," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "This event allows us to both show case the Endeavour and the remarkable youth of our community that have dedicated their weekend to keeping us safe."
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"Endeavour is a unique item and its transportation presents a unique challenge," LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. "Never before has an item of this size traversed our City streets. While this once-in-a-lifetime event is a cause for celebration, public safety remains the city's top priority. We encourage the public to view Endeavour as it travels through the streets of Los Angeles, but urge that we do so in the safest manner possible."
With an international contingent of news media clamoring for a spot along chainlink fencing to image the shuttle and hundreds of citizens clustered to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle as it exited LAX and made her way down Westchester Parkway.
Complex scheduling between local authorities and utility companies agreed on the exact timing to haul Endeavour along the choreographed route, taking down power lines, city lights and traffic signals to get the shuttle through, then restoring the services as quickly as possible to lessen the disruption to residents and businesses.
"Nothing was done without a lot of consideration. We have worked very closely with the California Science Center and we went with the best option, the only option we had. You can't just go take the wings off, it's not like an airplane. I can confidently say that we evaluated every option and California Science Center picked the one that was the best," Stilson said.
"Once we get through the process, I think everyone are going to be very happy because it is going to be an awesome sight seeing Endeavour going down the streets of Los Angeles and through Inglewood."
"Building Endeavour was a marvel of ingenuity and engineering," Villaraigosa said. "Moving Endeavour will also be a marvel of ingenuity and engineering. Every step of the way, we have worked to mitigate the concerns of the community. Thanks to this hard work, we expect that the transportation of Endeavour will be celebrated as a truly unique event in our city's history. We urge all those who are interested in viewing this once in a lifetime event to visit the shuttle at one of the designated viewing locations or at its new home at the California Science Center."
Public events are planned for Saturday at 9 a.m. outside the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, a Debbie Allen-produced dance celebration at 2 p.m. in the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and Martin Luther King Blvd. and the California Science Center arrival itself around 9 p.m.
"Due to the tremendous size of Endeavour, streets along with sidewalks will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians to ensure public safety. The public should anticipate traffic delays on the route and in the surrounding areas throughout the Endeavor's last mission," a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department read.
"Sidewalk closures along the route may be opened as determined by the Unified Command based on street width, fixed obstacles, and public safety issues on a block-by-block basis. Unified Command realizes the inconvenience 'Mission 26' is having on local communities and will make every effort to balance both the needs of the public with the goal of getting Endeavour to its new home."
"We urge the public to arrive early, be prepared to stand long hours, and remember to bring water, snacks, sun block, hats, and chairs. In addition, spectators traveling from distant communities are reminded to please be respectful of private property," the LAPD says.
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