A Toyota Tundra half-ton pickup truck without any special modifications successfully towed the 68-tonne space shuttle Endeavour across a bridge spanning the busiest motorway in the United States.
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The tow over the 405 Freeway was one of the trickiest parts of the shuttle’s 19.2-km route along city streets from Los Angeles airport to its new home at the California Science Center. The Tundra assisted in the transport of the Endeavour as it journeyed over the Manchester Boulevard Bridge – an area that required a different tow mechanism than other portions of the route for weight distribution purposes.
Accordingly, Toyota did extensive testing and worked with the Sarens Group, a heavy lifting and engineering transport company, to develop a dolly for the delicate manoeuvre of Endeavour over the bridge. The model selected was a stock 2012 Tundra CrewMax 4×4 with Toyota’s 5.7-litre iForce V8, producing 381 horsepower (284kW). The Tundra was built in Texas and had no modifications or special equipment added.
It was piloted by long-time Toyota professional driver Matt McBride. Riding along was Garrett Reisman, one of the NASA astronauts aboard the orbiter when it travelled to the International Space Station in 2008.
“I’m honoured to be part of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission to the California Science Center,” Reisman said. “I appreciate Toyota’s support in helping bring this space icon home to the Southern California community.”
The tow was a result of a 20-year partnership between Toyota and the California Science Center to raise awareness of the space program and continue public education through exhibits and events.
The shuttle, its exterior weathered by millions of kilometres in space and two dozen re-entries, will be the highlight of a new exhibit at the CSC – its final destination. The Tundra used to tow Endeavour will also go on display at the CSC as part of an interactive exhibit on the physics of leverage.
Vice president of community affairs and philanthropy for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Michael Rouse, said Toyota was honoured to lend a hand for this historic event.
“We’ve partnered with the California Science Center since the early ’90s as part of our ongoing commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology,” Mr Rouse said.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Toyota Tundra Towed Space Shuttle[nggallery id=570]