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Shuttle passes obstacle, heads toward LA museum
LOS ANGELES (AP) - After slowly surmounting a key obstacle, the shuttle Endeavour maintained a heading Saturday through the streets of Los Angeles toward its retirement home at a museum.
Endeavour’s final mission began when it departed from the Los Angeles International Airport before dawn Friday, rolling on a 160-wheeled carrier past diamond-shaped “Shuttle Xing” signs.
Around midnight, it traveled over a bridge across Interstate 405, an especially tricky part of the complicated journey because of the size of the space craft and width of the bridge. Friday evening it stopped as crews spent hours transferring the shuttle to a special, lighter towing dolly.
The shuttle was pulled across the Manchester Boulevard bridge by a Toyota Tundra pickup, and the car company filmed the event for a commercial after paying for a permit, turning then entire scene into a movie set complete with special lighting, sound and staging.
Police stopped traffic on the freeway below for the duration of the traverse, which took about three minutes.
Crews preparing for the crossing had to take down power lines, leaving about 400 residents of surrounding Inglewood without power for what was expected to be several hours.
Early Saturday, the shuttle rolled past Inglewood City Hall toward a scheduled stop at the Forum, where it was greeted in the arena’s parking lot by a throng of cheering spectators ahead of its trip further east on Manchester Boulevard.
Another tricky part will come later in the day when Endeavour treks through a narrow residential street with apartment buildings on both sides. With its wings expected to intrude into driveways, residents have been told to stay indoors until the shuttle passes.
Crowds gathered in front of lnglewood High School before sunrise Saturday to see Endeavour roll by. Many were bundled up sipping coffee.
“This is great for the city as a whole. It makes us proud,” said Martinez, a project director for a nonprofit whose family took turns taking pictures of one another as the shuttle slowly inched by.
Added his wife, Marcia, “It’s a big deal especially for this neighborhood. It’s important to witness history and for our children to experience it.”
John Wilkes, 69, a longtime Inglewood resident, woke up five hours earlier than usual to stake out a spot.
“This is definitely a treat,” said Wilkes, who is retired from the airline industry. “But what would be a better treat is to be able to take a ride on the shuttle.”
After crawling up Crenshaw Boulevard, the shuttle will stop for a bit Saturday afternoon at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. A celebration is planned, including speeches by politicians and a dance performance choreographed by Debbie Allen.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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