Toyota Tundra To Tow Space Shuttle Tomorrow
It looks like a Toyota Tundra pickup will be grabbing headlines tomorrow in what has to be one of the best promotional marketing coups of the year. A stock Toyota Tundra will tow the Endeavour Space Shuttle as it crosses the 405 freeway soon after it leaves Los Angeles Airport on its epic journey through the streets of Los Angeles to its final resting place at the California Science Center just south of downtown Los Angeles.
The whole endeavor has been aptly named Mission 26: The Final Endeavour. The shuttle will travel a total of 12 miles as it traverses city streets – the first and last time for any space shuttle. Most of the journey will be made using a specially constructed self-powered rig that will carry the 172,000 lbs space shuttle. Since the Endeavor has a 78 foot wing span and an overall height of 58 feet at the tip of its tail, while being moved, power lines and street lights have had to be removed from its path. Hundreds of trees have also been chopped down. However the Science Center and its sponsors will be planting many more new trees and restoring infrastructure in an “enforced” urban renewal plan, so to speak.
The overall weight of the Endeavour and its transportation rig it is too heavy to traverse the Manchester Boulevard bridge over the infamous 405 freeway so it will be transferred to a simpler dolly for better weight distribution. That’s when it will be towed by a single Tundra for this stretch of its two-day journey.
Toyota says the stock 2012 Tundra CrewMax 1/2–ton pickup that will be used is identical to production models, with no additional modifications to increase towing capacity or generate more power. The Tundra CrewMax is powered by a 5.7L V8 engine, with a maximum tow capacity of 10,000 pounds. Toyota says it has done extensive testing and worked with The Sarens Group, a heavy lifting and engineered transport company, to develop a dolly specifically for hauling the Endeavour.
“There is no larger or more recognizable icon of the U.S. space program’s success than the shuttle, and to have it towed by the Toyota Tundra is not only an incredible example of the capabilities of the truck, but an honor to be part of history,” said Ed Laukes, Toyota Motor Sales vice president of marketing communications. “The entire journey is something the world will be watching, and gives us a chance to prove that the ‘overbuilt’ Tundra is built to do any job – even tow the space shuttle.”
You might be wondering how Toyota managed to pull off this job. Did they spend millions for the privilege? No. Toyota already has an ongoing partnership with the Science Center to provide support and awareness of the space program and continuing education of the public through exhibits and programs. It currently has a Tundra on display in a Science Center exhibit demonstrating the physics of leverage. The tow Tundra will replace the existing Tundra and will be on display after the Endeavour exhibit opens on October 30.
Undoubtedly the scene as the Toyota Tundra tows Endeavour across the 405 freeway tomorrow evening (Friday Oct 12) will be one of the highlights of the whole endeavor. It will probably match the local interest in carmageddon, which took place when the 405 was closed to all traffic a couple of weeks ago. Only this time those caught in grid-lock traffic on the freeway should be happy to witness a sight to behold as Endeavour is shuttled across the bridge above them.
If you can’t get yourself stuck in the traffic jam to see the shuttle in person you can watch it on TV or learn more about the Tundra Endeavour project at www.toyota.com/TundraEndeavour.
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