Fleet Management

Wide, Heavy and High, Oh My

Moving the Space Shuttle Endeavour

February 2014, TruckingInfo.com - Department

by Kate Harlow, Associate Editor - Also by this author

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After traveling more than 124 million miles in space, the Space Shuttle Endeavour had one more 14.2-mile journey to make through the streets of Los Angeles to its final resting space at the California Science Center.

To transport the Endeavour, Sarens used four specially designed Kamag self-propelled modular trailers, which were controlled by a person walking alongside using a remote joystick panel.
To transport the Endeavour, Sarens used four specially designed Kamag self-propelled modular trailers, which were controlled by a person walking alongside using a remote joystick panel.

The company chosen to help this piece of U.S. history make its final journey was The Sarens Group. Sarens notes the transport took eight months and thousands of man-hours of planning many details.

“There were literally hundreds of people involved in the planning and execution phases of the project,” says Jim Hennessy, sales and marketing manager for Sarens. “Sarens’ contribution to the planning effort was a project manager and a team of engineers who mapped out the entire haul route and determined optimum equipment configurations to support the move.”

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When moving day arrived, the Sarens team grew to more than 40 people working two shifts.

To transport the 150,000-pound Space Shuttle Endeavour, with a wingspan of 78 feet, a length of 125 feet and a total height of 56 feet, Sarens used specially designed Kamag self-propelled modular trailers. The SPMTs comprised four independent, multi-axle, computer-controlled wheeled vehicles, which added up to 20-axle lines. Attached to the SPMTs was a system of beams, which supported the overland transport fixture to which the Endeavour was secured.

A typical scene as the Endeavour travels through residential neighborhoods and business districts along the transport route. Note in the photo on the left that the SPMT setup has been altered to a wide stance to span over the median.
A typical scene as the Endeavour travels through residential neighborhoods and business districts along the transport route. Note in the photo on the left that the SPMT setup has been altered to a wide stance to span over the median.

The SPMTs were controlled and steered as a single vehicle by a person walking alongside the shuttle using a remote joystick control panel.
Additional spotters were positioned near the nose, tail and wingtips to help manuever near potential obstructions such as buildings, poles and trees, according to Saren’s website.

Because of the historic nature of the final move of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, Toyota was able to acquire the rights to tow the Endeavour across a bridge over the I-405 freeway in Los Angeles with an unmodified Toyota Tundra.

To cross the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, the Endeavour had to be shifted from the Kamags to a dolly system to get the axle spacing and weight distribution to meet the standards defined by the California Department of Transportation. The dolly system was designed and fabricated by Rackley Bilt Custom Trailers.

The Endeavour has traveled at speeds topping more than 17,000 mph, but during the transport to its final resting place, it was reduced to speeds of less than 2 mph. The entire 14.2-mile trip took approximately three days.

“This was not the biggest, heaviest or most complicated transport that we have performed, but it certainly was the most historic,” Hennessey says.

“While there were some challenging obstacles to clear along the route, the journey itself was the easy part.”

The difficult part, he says, “was the months of planning, engineering, route surveying and coordination with a myriad of public and private entities, all of whom worked long hours to ensure minimal impact to the communities through which the shuttle would pass.”

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