The crowds who watched the space shuttle Endeavour make its aerial journey over Los Angeles in September will get a much closer view this weekend.
Endeavour is set to slowly roll on specialized, computerized transporters from a hangar at Los Angeles International Airport to its permanent home at the California Science Center early Saturday night. Its arrival will make the Science Center in Exposition Park, which is adjacent to USC, the only museum in the world to house a complete space shuttle.
Crowds are expected to gather to watch the shuttle as it creeps along its route. Those who are interested can view the shuttle from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. when it will stop at the Forum in Inglewood for an official ceremony in front of about 14,000 spectators. At 1:30 p.m., it will pass another public viewing place at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Students can also watch Endeavour pull into Exposition Park around 5:30 p.m., according to Kristina Kurasz, a communication associate at the California Science Center.
Many students are looking forward to the chance to see Endeavour.
“Personally, I am very excited,” said Dan Morgan-Russell, a freshman majoring in international relations/global business. “This is a great opportunity to see first-hand such a magnificent piece of America’s scientific history.”
Endeavour’s 12-mile crawl to the museum, however, has been a logistical difficulty as much as it will be a spectacle. Moving such a large object — Endeavour’s wingspan of 78 feet stretches nearly seven traffic lanes — is a huge security and safety issue for anything or anyone in its path. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has warned Angelenos that road closures and additional security will cause heavy traffic delays throughout the day Saturday.
“Along the shuttle route we will actually be taking down traffic signals and signs as the shuttle passes and then re-installing them after,” said Jonathan Hui, a spokesperson for the LADOT.
Hui explained that the process of transporting the shuttle will be time-intensive because the maximum moving speed is only two miles per hour. The shuttle is expected to leave LAX around 2 a.m. and arrive at Exposition Park in the afternoon. Additionally, there will be frequent public viewing opportunities where the shuttle will not move for several hours.
The traffic mayhem caused by Endeavour is expected to affect the neighborhood around USC starting around 4 p.m. on Saturday, when the roads along West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will begin to shut down. Hui explained that students should expect closures and traffic along Vermont and Western avenues as well.
The roads will re-open by 10 p.m. on Saturday after Endeavour safely reached the Science Center.
“As far as USC is concerned, there will be a lot of officials for additional security and members of the public trying to see the shuttle near campus on Saturday,” Hui said. “Traffic may be affected, so just be aware and plan accordingly.”
USC’s Department of Transportation assures students that aside from traffic, there will not be any major issues on campus regarding Endeavour’s arrival.
USC Dept. of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle said there might be more crowding in campus parking facilities, but most of the chaos will be on the south side of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which will be heavily staffed by Los Angeles Police Department officers.
After the shuttle arrives on site, one wall of the new exhibit’s main pavilion at the Science Center will be removed in order to move it inside.
The Science Center exhibit, which will display Endeavour along with artifacts, interactive video and information about space exploration, opens Oct. 30. The public is encouraged to purchase a timed ticket beforehand to ensure entrance into the exhibit.
“We are very excited to have the participation of not only the city-wide agencies that we are working with but also the participation of the public,” said Shell Amega, spokeswoman for the California Science Center. “We are glad they are as excited as we are, but we also ask that they bear with us as Endeavour is transported.”