Brief halt in Endeavour's crawl to museum site
Updated 10:10 a.m. ET
LOS ANGELES In a massive feat of parallel parking, the space shuttle Endeavour has been backed into a Los Angeles parking lot for a pause on its final journey to a museum.
The 170,000-pound spacecraft was cheered by hundreds of viewers Friday morning as it made its predawn journey from a Los Angeles International Airport hangar through the Westchester neighborhood.
Endeavour had previously cruised around the Earth at 17,500 mph, faster than a speeding bullet. Today it crawled at 2 mph on a two-day journey to the California Science Center, where it will spend its retirement. Its 12-mile road trip kicked off shortly before midnight Thursday 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.
Crowds of people snapped photos and applauded along its route
The shuttle went about three miles before stopping at around 5:30 a.m. Its final nine-mile trek will begin in the afternoon after crews deal with power lines father ahead on the route.
The spacecraft was escorted by a security entourage as it moved across the tarmac but was briefly delayed after a minor problem developed with its trailer, Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said. The problem was quickly repaired and Scheier said it reached the street shortly after 2 a.m. PDT Friday.
Endeavour also and made several stops so crews could prune trees in the path of its 75-foot wingspan.
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 Thursday night in some locations and discouraged spectators from swarming side streets.
The behemoth transport has caused headaches for shopkeepers along the route who counted on cheering crowds jamming the curbs to boost business.
In the days leading up to Endeavour's move, the owners of Randy's Donuts sold shuttle-shaped pastries emblazoned with the NASA logo and even hung a shuttle replica inside the giant doughnut hole sign visible from the busy Interstate 405.
Co-owner Larry Weintraub planned to watch the shuttle creep by the roadside sign, which has been featured in several movies. But the store, which serves up sweets 24-7, will be closed Friday night.
"I'm still excited, but I'm disappointed that people aren't going to be able to stand in the streets and shout 'Yay,"' he said.
Saturday is typically the busiest day for James Fugate, who co-owns Eso Won Books in South Los Angeles. But with Endeavour expected to shuffle through, Fugate braced for a ho-hum day in sales.
"We don't close because we're slow. That's when you pull out a book to read," he said.
The baby of the shuttle fleet, Endeavour replaced Challenger, which exploded during liftoff in 1986, killing seven astronauts. It thundered off the launch pad 25 times, orbited Earth nearly 4,700 times and racked up 123 million miles.
Last month, it wowed throngs with a dizzying aerial loop, soaring over the state Capitol, Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood Sign and other California landmarks while strapped to the back of a modified 747 before finally landing at LAX.
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