Space shuttle Endeavour had an early start Thursday night to its 12-mile journey from Los Angeles International Airport to its new home at the California Science Center.
The massive shuttle rolled out of a United Airlines hangar around 11:26 p.m., about half an hour before its scheduled departure time. From LAX, Endeavour will venture onto South Los Angeles surface streets toward the science center in Exposition Park.
Endeavour, which made its last space trip in May 2011, will make its trip to the science center on a NASA transporter pulled by four electronically connected vehicles, a trip that is expected to take over two days.
There was a flurry of last-minute activity on Thurday night to get everything ready for the shuttle's road trip.
Inside nearby Fire Station 5, the command post that will direct the entire 12-mile move came to life, with live video from route cameras projected onto the wall.
"We have to be able to adjust our plan to where the needs arise within the community," said LAFD Asst. Chief Tim Manning.
Shortly after 11 p.m., crews along Lincoln Boulevard were laying down Endeavour’s steel-plated runway.
Enormous crowds are expected, and that raises concerns for both the security of the irreplaceable shuttle and for public safety.
"We look at crowd surges," said Deputy Chief Mike Downing of the LAPD. "We look for any problems, and if there are problems, we could surge resources toward the problem."
To ensure safety, police will use more than a dozen portable surveillance cameras temporarily mounted along the route, as has previously been done for special events such as the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup parade.
The Axis cameras can zoom in a mile and are controlled and monitored with a secured digital network.
"We can connect anywhere to the Internet, and via the Internet they can look at the video from their command post, or they can look at any device that is connected to the Internet," said Fredrik Nilsson, of Axis Communications.
Police were also forced to shut down many streets and sidewalks to accommodate Endeavour's parade through the streets, according to The Associated Press. The orbitter is outfitted with a 58-foot-tall tail and a 78-foot wingspan, which will be a tight squeeze through many roads. Cable and telephone lines were raised and about 400 trees had to be cut down in preparation for the shuttle's passage.