Space shuttle Endeavour inches through Los Angeles on Saturday
The final voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavour was delayed by Canary Island pine trees and a broken transporter, as firefighters warned spectators to bring water if they planned to join the expected throng of spectators at Exposition Park on Sunday.
As a clear autumn day broke over the City of Angels, the shuttle was still about 8,500 feet short of its goal, and was squeezing around pine trees planted 20 years ago to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the boulevard named in his honor.
At points, the shuttle on its transporters was moving diagonally, backing up, and then nosing past trees.
``Endeavour is now entering the narrowest portion of the route,'' Carlos Calvillo of the Los Angeles Fire Department said shortly before midnight. ``The narrow streets and darkness have slowed Endeavour's schedule.''
At 9:45 a.m., the shuttle was at Western Avenue. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. at Menlo Avenue, where the shuttle was expected to turn north into Exposition park at 11 a.m.
``Warm temperatures are anticipated for today,'' Calvillo warned. ``We remind everyone to be prepared for the heat and long wait lines.
Forty-three people who were waiting in the sun Saturday needed medical attention, mostly for dehydration or other heat-related issues, city firefighters said. With forecasts for today in the high 80s, spectators were exhorted to bring water and food.
The shuttle was about 10 hours behind schedule for its arrival at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall, where an elaborate welcoming ceremony that was scheduled for 2 p.m. was executed at 5, with the shuttle nowhere in sight. Huge crowds grew throughout the day -- at one point, 30,000 people lined one mile of Crenshaw at Leimert Park.
Because of the delay, Metro kept its trains running citywide all night. The Red, Purple, Blue, Orange and Expo lines have been touted as a convenient way to get to the shuttle route.
Some time was lost Saturday while crews worked on and reconfigured the four self-propelled rigs the shuttle is riding on to squeeze along MLK Jr. Boulevard, which is narrower than Crenshaw.
The move is expected to cost about $10 million, and a fundraising campaign has been begun to built a permanent hangar for the 122-foot-long orbiter. The tail section of the shuttle stands about five-stories tall, its wingspan is about 77 feet.
The early going was smoother Saturday, with Endeavour arriving at the Forum in Inglewood for a breather about 45 minutes early.
Today, parking lots will be made available for spectators, as the orbiter rolls into Exposition Park. Four lots will be open between Bill Robertson Lane and Vermont Avenue north of Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The shuttle will go on public display beginning Oct. 30.
Endeavour was built to replace Challenger, which blew up Jan. 28, 1986. It spent a total of 296 days in space, logging 25 mission and 4,671 orbits. Its missions included retrieving errant satellites, participating in the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope and servicing the International Space Station.
Those who can't make it to see the shuttle Sunday will soon have another chance when it debuts at the Science Center Oct. 30.
NASA's space shuttle program has been discontinued after 30 years.
Hawthorne-based SpaceX is now sending supplies to the International Space Station in unmanned vehicles and is working toward the development of a manned vehicle. Russian Soyuz spacecraft are being used for ferrying people to and from the space station.