Bone-Stock Tundra Pulls 150,000 Pound Space Shuttle
Next time someone asks you what your Tundra can pull, tell them that a 2012 5.7L Tundra can pull a 150,000 pound space shuttle…without any modifications.
The Tundra pulled the 150k lbs space shuttle Endeavour across the Manchester Boulevard Bridge, which spans the 405 in L.A. …and it was bone-stock too.
Is That Tundra REALLY Bone Stock?
Unbelievably, yes. From Toyota:
The truck used to tow the Endeavour was purchased from a Southern California Toyota dealer, with no modifications or special equipment added for the tow.
If you think about a Tundra pulling a space shuttle in the same way that you think of a truck being pulled by “the world’s strongest man,” you know that the real trick to moving something heavy is getting the load rolling. Once the load is moving, keeping it moving doesn’t require as much effort. Therefore, a bone-stock truck can pull many times it’s own weight if you have:
- A special dolly (which you can see in the image below)
- A truck that can generate a very large force to get the load rolling
- A driveline that won’t break under the strain of a large force
It goes without saying that a vehicle must be well-made to survive this task – massive tow loads put strain on every component in the driveline. If a gear is poorly made, a driveshaft is sub-standard, or a clutch pack doesn’t work like it’s supposed to, something breaks and you never leave the starting line.
Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, I calculated the normal force of the shuttle to be about 666 KN, and using a roling friction coefficient of .2 (which might be a touch high for this specialized dolly), the force of friction that the Tundra was pulling against across the bridge was about 30,000 lbs. This means the Tundra was likely maxed out after it got the shuttle rolling, to say nothing of the force it took to get the dolly moving.
As far as calculating the force needed to make the shuttle budge, the exact amount is dependent upon the static coefficient of friction. If we assume that it’s 0.6 (rubber tires on a concrete surface) than the Tundra needed to generate about 90,000 pounds of force to get the shuttle rolling. 90,000 pounds of pull!! …and these estimates could be low.
Critics Argue That Allowing A Toyota To Pull The Shuttle is Un-American
Some critics have found Toyota’s role in pulling the shuttle to be objectionable, arguing that an “American” vehicle should be used to pull the shuttle across the bridge.
However, as we have often pointed out, the Tundra is one of the most “American” trucks on the road.
According to the Cars.com 2012 “Most American Vehicles” rankings, the Tundra has the same amount of domestic content (75%) as the F-150, which makes it the 7th most American vehicle on their list and places the Tundra ahead of trucks offered by GM and Chrysler-Fiat. What’s more, the Tundra is assembled at a $1.5 billion dollar facility in San Antonio, TX, which employs thousands of workers.
If allowing the Tundra to pull the shuttle is “un-American,” allowing a Dodge or GM truck (which less a smaller percentage of domestic parts) to pull the shuttle would have been even worse. Perhaps an F150 would have been more “American,” but keep in mind that Toyota employs thousands of workers in California, and that the company has donated millions of dollars to the California Science Center (the final home of the Endeavour). So, it’s not as if Toyota doesn’t have some legitimate reasons to be involved here.
Regardless, seeing any half-ton truck pull a 150,000 pound space shuttle is an awesome feat of strength, and surely even the harshest critics can admit that the Tundra is a powerful truck.
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