Next week, on October 12 and 13, Endeavor will be hauled from the United Airlines hangar via surface streets to the science center. Nearly 400 trees have been cut down along the route so the shuttle will have clearance. City governments have been jollying the neighbors along with expectations of witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event. Now they’ve confessed there will be no sidelines for anyone to stand on and cheer the shuttle’s progress:
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said the massive spacecraft, which measures 78 feet wide and weighs 170,000 pounds, needs the entire width of the roadways to squeeze through. At some places along the route, the shuttle will be right at the curb, leaving little room for spectators. The shuttle’s route requires numerous turns, raising concerns that people on the streets could be hurt with even a minor miscalculation.
There are also worries about the shuttle sustaining damage during the move.
The sidewalks and streets will be closed about a mile ahead of and behind Endeavour as it crawls along the 12-mile route at no more than 2 mph to its new home in Exposition Park….
“For the safety of the public, we can’t have them in a certain area of the wingspan just in case something does happen,” Lopez said. “That is the big difference. For parades that we publicize, we set up for sidewalk viewing. In this case, we just cannot accommodate that.”
In the LA Times op-ed writer Paul Whitefield reached back to The Right Stuff for words to describe the public outrage:
Any way you slice it, the city and others overseeing the move of the space shuttle Endeavour from its current parking spot at LAX to its new home at the California Science Center are about to, in the immortal words of aviators and astronauts everywhere, “screw the pooch.”