Stepping up and out of its weight class in a big way, a 2012 Toyota Tundra half-ton pickup played a key role in helping the Endeavour Space Shuttle complete its final mission this weekend as it traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center, where it will go on permanent display. The 150,000-pound Endeavor rode on special self-propelled dollies for the majority of a 12-mile trek that required two days to complete. However, one critical passage that took it across a bridge over the 405 Freeway necessitated a lighter tow mechanism to accommodate weight-distribution requirements. That's where the Toyota pickup - specifically an unmodified 2012 Tundra CrewMax 4x4 with a 381-horsepower/5.7-liter iForce V8 -- was called into action.

While this stock Tundra - which has an official tow rating of 10,000 pounds - was driven by longtime Toyota professional driver Matt McBride during the course of the 5-minute bridge crossing, it also carried Garrett Reisman as a guest of honor. Reisman was one of the astronauts aboard the Endeavour when it traveled to the International Space Station in 2008.

According to Michael Rouse, vice president of community affairs and philanthropy for Toyota, the choice of a Tundra was no accident. "We've partnered with the California Science Center since the early '90s as part of our ongoing commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology, and we are honored to lend our support for this historic event." The Science Center already has a Tundra pickup in-house as part of an exhibit that demonstrates the physics of leverage. That vehicle will be replaced by this historic shuttle-toting alternative when the Endeavour exhibit formally opens at the end of the month. 

To see the Tundra tow the Endeavour, click here:

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