At its prime, the space shuttle Endeavour cruised around the Earth at 17,500mph, faster than a speeding bullet. In retirement, it's crawling along at a sluggish 2mph, a pace that rush-hour commuters can sympathize with. Endeavour's 12-mile road trip kicked off shortly before midnight as it moved from its Los Angeles International Airport hangar en route to the California Science Center, its ultimate destination, said Benjamin Scheier of the center.
While the shuttle will have the streets and sidewalks to itself during the two-day journey as it inches past strip malls, storefronts, apartment buildings, and front lawns, it will be a constant stop-and-go commute. Ushering a shuttle through an urban core is a logistical challenge that took almost a year to plan. Guarded by a security detail reminiscent of a presidential visit, police enforced rolling street and sidewalk closures as early as last night in some locations and discouraged spectators from swarming side streets. Click for more details on how the 170,000-pound, five-story-tall shuttle with a 78-foot wingspan will be guided through the streets—it involves an operator with a joystick. (Read more Endeavor stories.)