Its official designation was the OV-105, but the world came to know it as the Endeavour Space Shuttle. It was built from spare parts to replace the Challenger, which tragically disintegrated a mere 73 minutes after launch from the Kennedy Space Center on January 28, 1986.
Along with the Discovery and Atlantis, which took part in the STS (Space Transportation system) missions, and the Enterprise that was used for initial testing, the Endeavour is (after a second tragedy struck in 2003 when Columbia exploded on re-entry) what remains of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, which was terminated last year after three decades and 135 missions.
With the Lockheed-Martin Orion being selected by NASA as its next reusable space vehicle, the Space Shuttles are now part of the U.S. space program’s history.
The Endeavour, however, had one last trip to make before its final retirement. This time it did not make it into space; in fact, it didn’t even light up its rockets.
The 150,000-pound spacecraft was transported by a standard half-ton Toyota Tundra CrewMax pickup to its new home, the California Science Center, where it will be exhibited from October 30, 2012.
It was a 12-mile journey that passed through the 405 Freeway and crossed the Manchester Boulevard Bridge. The Tundra, which packs a 381HP 5.7-liter V8 under its hood, was picked not only because of its towing ability, but also due to Toyota’s long-standing relationship with the Center.
Engineer and astronaut Garrett Reisman, a crewmember of the Endeavour in its International Space Station (ISS) travel in 2008, was aboard the Tundra that was steered by Toyota professional driver, Matt McBride.
“I’m honored to be part of the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission to the California Science Center”, said the former astronaut, who added that he appreciated “Toyota’s support in helping bring this space icon home to the Southern California community.”
Fortunately, the Tundra completed its task without a hitch and no report whatsoever of smoke coming out of its power window switches…
You can watch the video of the Tundra towing a living piece of U.S. history right after the jump.
By Andrew Tsaousis