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Los Angeles prepares for Endeavour's last ride

4:16 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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LOS ANGELES (NBC) -- When Space Shuttle Endeavour made her final flight two weeks ago, she was playing to her legions of enthralled fans, but her final journey, covering 12-miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center, will be different.

There will be a handful of designated locations for viewing and celebrating.

Apart from that, it's going to be handled less like a parade, and more like the high-security delivery that it is.

Law enforcement officials are warning gawkers not to expect the ability to pick their viewing spot along the roadside.

"Quite frankly, the street is just not wide enough to accommodate Endeavour and spectators on the sidewalk," said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.

Details of the route timetable were spelled out Thursday during briefings at the Science Center.

Apart from crowd control issues, there are significant security concerns associated with transporting a national treasure whose value in dollars and symbolism may well be immeasurable.

Endeavour will be surrounded at all times by a "security bubble," of several layers, the innermost comprised of officers from elite LAPD divisions who will walk with the shuttle.

Keeping up will not be difficult.

Endeavour's speed limit on its modular transport blocks will be all of two miles per hour.

Anything more might be foolhardy, given that wing and tailfin clearances at some spots will be as tight as six inches.

Residents and employees along Endeavour's route will have to endure street closures and some electrical outages as power lines are de-energized and moved to make way for the shuttle's five-story-tall tailfin.

Southern California Edison expects 400 customers will be affected in Inglewood, during the 17-hour window from 9 p.m. on October 12 to 2 p.m. on October 13, according to spokeswoman Susan Cox.

The plan calls for a series of sequential outages, from west to east, interrupting power in any one area for no more than four hours before restoring power there, and then cutting power to the next area as the shuttle advances, Cox said.

Because of variations in local distribution networks, she said, not all homes and businesses along the route will be affected.

Inglewood City Councilman Mike Stevens expressed displeasure that details of the outages were not provided further in advance.

Stevens has also been critical of the hundreds of trees removed along Endeavour's route through Inglewood and South Los Angeles.

The community should have been presented a more complete picture of the impact, rather than "Oh yeah, here's another," Stevens said.

Endeavour will be housed for the next three years in a cavernous hangar at the west end of the Science Center, with the grand opening scheduled for October 30.

The shuttle's permanent home, where it will be displayed in launch position, will be the planned Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, targeted for completion in 2017.

NBC

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