Toyota pick-up tows a space shuttle

Toyota pick-up tows a space shuttle

Oct 18, 2012

While the world was busy watching a man sky-dive from the edge of space, back on earth a Toyota pick-up truck was doing something equally remarkable.

At 68 tonnes, the recently retired space shuttle Endeavour, is not exactly the kind of vehicle you expect to see 'driving' along the straights of California but that is exactly what happened as the grand old man of space flight made its way to its new home at the California Science Centre.

The 31-kilometre route from Los Angeles Airport to the science centre was carefully mapped out with trees, traffic light and other obstructions moved to allow for easy access. The 405 Freeway, one of the busiest stretches of road in the US, proved a problem though as the combined weight of the shuttle and the transporter that carried it was too much for the Manchester Boulevard Bridge they had to cross to carry.

Enter the Toyota Tundra, a 5.7-litre V8-powered half-ton pick-up truck.  After extensive collaboration with the Sarens Group, a heavy lifting and engineering transport company, the unmodified Tundra hitched up to the Endeavour and towed it over the bridge at a leisurely pace.  The 68-tonne Endeavour certainly exceeded the maximum towing weight of the Tundra but Matt McBride, long time Toyota professional driver, reported no issues with the tow.

The stunt was a result of a 20-year partnership between Toyota and the California Science Centre to raise awareness of the space program and continue public education through exhibits and events.

A spokesman for Toyota said the Japanese manufacturer was honoured to lend a hand for the event.

"We've partnered with the California Science Centre since the early '90s as part of our on-going commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology," Mr Rouse said.