I like space. If I see something even remotely tied to space, stars, or the shuttle program, I'm all over it. I feel the same way about trucks. I can't get enough of off-road beasts, sleek custom trucks, and everything in-between. Imagine my amazement when I found the Toyota Tundra
that towed the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Let me start this off with a small caveat. Normally I like to write about off-road trucks and truck culture as a whole as well as customizations like train horns. I know a shuttle-hauling Toyota Tundra is a little off topic for this, but this is just an amazing example of what a truck can do. Imagine what yours can do with some customization and work. Ok, warning given, time for some space shuttle goodness. Now, I know what you might be thinking, that this was just a big publicity stunt for Toyota. While you are partially right, this was a pretty public publicity move for them and the Tundra, there is actually a story behind this. The shuttle Endeavour weighs in at about 145 tons. To get the shuttle to it's final resting place, it had to be towed down highways in Los Angeles. This meant going over a few bridges that the highway makes use of.
One of those bridges was the Manchester Boulevard Bridge on Interstate 405. Turns out this bridge couldn't hold the weight of the shuttle as well as the regular tow vehicle. In comes Toyota. The shuttle was being towed to the California Science Center, and Toyota being 20-year sponsors of the center, offered their help in the tow. While the Tundra only towed the shuttle for about 5 minutes, it's still pretty awesome that it could do it, since 145 tons is slightly over it's towing capacity (by about 17 times!). Toyota chose the 2012 Tundra CrewMax 4x4 with the 5.7 liter iForce V8 engine, which makes 381 horsepower. Toyota makes all Tundra trucks in their San Antonio, Texas manufacturing plant, and this specific Tundra was purchased from a California dealer with no additional modifications or special equipment.
This would be a pretty cool story if it ended here, but it doesn't. The Tundra that hauled the Endeavour over that bridge joined it's space-traveling cargo in the California Science Center not as a museum piece, but as the center of an exhibit on, what else, levers. Using levers, science center visitors can lift the 5,625-pound truck along with 1,000 pounds of rig off the ground using a lever. So, the shuttle Endeavour got a short ride, Toyota got some huge publicity, and the science center got an exhibit that shows how levers work. I'd say everyone wins in this scenario.
The fact that a truck pulled 17 times itís towing capacity and that it towed a freakiní space shuttle should amaze any truck fan. Off-road or on-road, this is a pretty cool feat for any truck and hopefully shows you what you can do given the proper upgrades like a winch, bumper, tires, and suspension.