One Last Trip for the Endeavour:
Have you ever seen one of those “strongman” competitions where someone pulls train cars or maybe a few city busses with a huge rope wrapped around his waist? There’s no arguing that it’s an impressive show of power. And, at least for me anyway, it’s always a little bit comical to see someone so (relatively) small moving such a large object. It’s like watching a tiny ant carrying a huge leaf. It’s visually absurd.
This Saturday, there’s going to be another amazing show of strength (and I’m sure a fair amount of that visual absurdity, too) as a stock 2012 Toyota Tundra CrewMax half-ton pickup tows the massive, retired space shuttle Endeavour to its new home.
It’s well-known that NASA’s space shuttle program has flown its final mission. And if you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, then you also know that the retired space shuttle Endeavour has made its way across the USA to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Not under its own power, but by riding on the back of NASA’s Boeing 747 shuttle carrier. (That’s another strange sight, incidentally.) But the craziest part of the journey still lies ahead. On October 13th, the Endeavour — all 300,000 pounds of it — will be towed (via a special dolly built by the Sarens Group, a heavy lifting and engineered transport company), on a 12-mile trip through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center where it will remain on display for the public. Heavy-duty industrial equipment will haul the shuttle most of the way, but then a Toyota Tundra pickup truck — with a 10,000-pound towing capacity — will take over the towing duty for the final quarter mile.
A 300,000-pound load towed by a vehicle with a 10,000-pound towing capacity? That doesn’t add up, does it? How does the (relatively diminutive) Toyota Tundra accomplish what the (massive, purpose-built) NASA Crawler-Transporter normally does?