Space shuttle Endeavour makes its final journey, with a little help from Toyota

Toyota Tundra tows space shuttle EndeavourThe space shuttle Endeavour’s final journey from LAX to the California Science Center required almost as much preparation as an actual space flight. Clearances had to be checked and trees needed to be pruned before the shuttle could roll through the streets of Los Angeles. In the middle of it all, Toyota found room for a publicity stunt.

The move, dubbed Mission 26, involved placing Endeavour on a custom-built 80-wheel vehicle. It’s top speed was two mph, not bad considering the shuttle and transport vehicle weighed a combined 300,000 pounds. To keep Endeavour from crushing underground sewer pipes, the streets were covered with steel plates to better distribute the craft’s weight.

The sheer weight of an earthbound space shuttle wasn’t the only problem. While it was being floated down the Hudson on its way to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, the prototype shuttle Enterprise was damaged when one its wings hit a dock. With barely any clearance on either side of its 78-foot wingspan, a repeat of that incident was a real possibility as Endeavour negotiated LA’s streets.

To keep Endeavour from being the victim of a fender-bender, every tree, power line, and street sign in the shuttle’s path was removed.

In the middle of it all was Toyota, whose public relations department obviously couldn’t resist this high profile event. A 2012 Tundra CrewMax 4×4 towed Endeavour over the Manchester Boulevard Bridge.

The shuttle’s weight was well in excess of the Tundra’s rated towing capacity of 9,000 pounds, yet the truck pulled it off. Toyota didn’t swap out the engine for one of the NASA Crawler’s either; the truck was purchased from a local dealer and was kept bone stock. Perhaps the Tundra had some help from the four tractor units that propelled Endeavour during the rest of the trip, or maybe Toyota took advantage of the wheeled rig’s low rolling resistance.Toyota Tundra tows space shuttle Endeavour

The trip across the 100-yard Manchester Bridge took five minutes.

The Tundra was driven by Toyota’s in-house professional, Matt McBride. The co-pilot for this mission was Garrett Reisman, an astronaut who rode Endeavour to the International Space Station in 2008.

Toyota used the shuttle pull to underscore its connections to the United States. The Tundra wore “Born in America” lettering on its front end, which isn’t false advertising since this Japanese-brand truck is made in San Antonio, Texas.

That Tundra will join Endeavour at the California Science Center, replacing another Tundra in an exhibit on the physics of leverage.

Endeavour is one of four remaining space shuttles, all of which were retired in 2011. The prototype Enterprise never flew into space, and is currently displayed on the deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid. Discovery replaced Enterprise at the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Atlantis, the last shuttle to fly into space, will remain at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.