The Endeavour space shuttle is set to touch down at LAX this month, and to make way for its earthly trip across Los Angeles to its new home at the California Science Center, about 400 trees will be removed from its path. The 70,000-pound-shuttle will travel from the major airport, down 12 miles of city streets and cross the 405 freeway on its commute.
"It's not only one of the biggest objects ever transported down city streets; it's an irreplaceable national treasure," said California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph in a statement last month.
The Los Angeles Times reports that crews have already begun chopping and trimming trees in Inglewood, which will lose 128 trees; communities across South L.A. will lose about 265. The 78-foot-wide shuttle will also necessitate the removal or relocation of utilities, overhead wires and other blockages on the road that may not accommodate the shuttle's wing span.
KPCC reports that the Science Center plans to plant two new trees for every one removed -- but some residents are worried these young, skinny trees wont offer the same amount of shade.
"They are cutting down these really big, majestic trees," Lark Galloway-Gilliam, a longtime Leimert Park resident and neighborhood council director, told the L.A. Times. "It will be beyond my lifetime before they will be tall like this again."
The Endeavour is scheduled to land in L.A. on Sept. 20 and be housed in a temporary United Airlines hangar until it embarks on its cross-city trip Oct. 12. The shuttle will eventually be on permanent display in the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center -- a designated wing of the science center in Exposition Park.