Last month we were thrilled to announce that a Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck would be towing the Space Shuttle Endeavour during part of its journey to its new home at the California Science Center. Well… mission accomplished!
On Friday night, October 12th, a Tundra pickup truck – without any special modifications – successfully towed the Space Shuttle Endeavour across a bridge spanning the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. The shuttle and custom tow dolly weighed a combined 292,000 pounds.
Just a short distance from Los Angeles International Airport where Endeavour began its 12-mile journey on its way to the California Science Center, the Manchester bridge crossing was cause for concern due to weight limitations. The combined weight of Endeavour and its robotic transporter was 500,000 pounds. Given that challenge, it was necessary to transfer the shuttle to a lighter-weight dolly before crossing the bridge over the 405.
Toyota’s 2012 Tundra CrewMax 4X4 with a 5.7 liter iForce V8 engine, producing 381 horsepower and a tow rating of 10,000 pounds, had no problem achieving this massive feat. Before transporting Endeavour, we did extensive testing and worked with the Sarens Group, a heavy lifting and engineering transport company, to develop a dolly that would take Endeavour over the bridge. Check out the testing by watching this video.
The Toyota Tundra was driven by professional driver Matt McBride. Along for the ride was Garret Reisman, one of the astronauts aboard the orbiter when it went to the International Space Stationin 2008. Reisman noted, “After all it’s been through in space, I’m really glad we got it safely over the bridge and, ultimately, to its new home at the California Science Center.”
Currently, a Toyota Tundra is on display at the Science Center where there is a working exhibit that demonstrates the physics of leverage. The Tundra used to tow Endeavour on Friday, will replace that truck in the giant lever demonstration sometime after the shuttle pavilion opens.
At Toyota, we’re dedicated to supporting the advancement of scientific study and partnering with organizations that share this mission. Our role in helping transport the shuttle continues a 20-year partnership between Toyota and the California Science Center to provide financial support to promote science learning including a comprehensive look at America’s history in space.
It was truly an honor to join the many California businesses and foundations that brought Endeavour to the people of Southern California. If you find yourself in LA, stop by and visit the shuttle exhibit. Be sure to follow the hashtag #TundraEndeavour on Twitter for more information and updates.