Five Space Shuttle Endeavour Disaster Scenarios
The Endeavour is scheduled to begin its excruciatingly slow steamroll through South Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon... but the move will likely be delayed if rain remains in the forecast. (The space shuttle's fragile tiles absorb water like little sponges, adding to the shuttle's already considerable 170,000-pound weight.)
NOAA Photo Library Moving the space shuttle could be a real Challenger.
That's just as well, though, because there are a lot of things that could go terribly wrong on the shuttle's mission from LAX to Exposition Park.
We count them down here, beginning with the collapse of the Manchester Boulevard bridge.
5. The Collapse of the Manchester Boulevard Bridge
One of the first obstacles the shuttle team will have to navigate is the Manchester Boulevard bridge. That's where they will remove the shuttle from its high-tech transporter and load it onto a dolly that will be towed by a 2012 floor-model Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
CalTrans put the kibosh on allowing the transporter across the bridge because it didn't meet state requirements.
The weight limit on any California highway is 80,000 pounds. Even without the transport apparatus, the shuttle weighs more than twice that... And, as of this morning, CalTrans still had not approved the necessary permits to haul the behemoth across the 405-spanning overpass.
Toyota is planning to film the whole exercise for a commercial -- a commercial that will be made all the more dramatic if the bridge buckles and breaks under Endeavour's massive weight. Look out for that spot during the 2013 Super Bowl -- featuring a Tundra triumphantly emerging from the rubble, battered shuttle still in tow.