Space shuttle fuel tank arrives at Marina del Rey


After an ocean trip from New Orleans via the Panama Canal, the external space shuttle fuel tank known as ET-94 arrived this morning at Marina dey Rey. Officials of the California Science Center, some early-rising onlookers and photographer Gary Leonard observed the arrival. The tank was towed around the breakwater and up the marina channel, then offloaded to a truck. There will be a press conference and media op with the mayor and others at 11 a.m. at Fisherman's Village in the marina. They will discuss the plan for wheeling the tank through the city to the museum, ala the space shuttle itself a few years ago.

Details of the last leg through the streets, and the museum's report on the journey to Los Angeles, are below.

Photos by Gary Leonard. Click on any image to see bigger.



ET-94 has already had a long and eventful journey on the way to the California Science Center, traveling over 4,400 nautical miles by barge. After leaving the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, it rode out a storm in the Cayman Islands, passed through the Panama Canal, and made its way up the Pacific Coast. ET-94 came to the rescue when the crew of the Shannon Dann, the tug boat pulling the external tank, picked up four stranded people after their charter fishing boat, the Maximus, took on water and sank off the coast of Mexico.

Beginning at 6:00 am on May 18, ET-94 will clear the breakwater of the marina and slowly come to dock next to Fisherman’s Village. The external tank will be driven off the barge in a delicate offloading procedure, and will be welcomed at a news conference by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph, among other civic leaders and elected officials.

“Mission 26: ET Comes Home” still has over 16 miles left to go once it reaches land, through the streets of Los Angeles and Inglewood. ET-94 will be placed on dollies and pulled by a truck to its final destination near the California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Pavilion in a 13-18 hour journey on May 21, 2016.

ET-94 is the last remaining external tank, built for flight but never used, and donated to the Science Center by NASA. Its acquisition completes the California Science Center’s Shuttle Launch Vehicle – enabling us to preserve and display the only existing full stack of real Solid Rocket Boosters, Orbiter, and External Tank.

Larger and longer than Endeavour, the ET was the Orbiter’s massive “gas tank” and contained the propellants used by the Space Shuttle Main Engines (though ET-94 is empty). The tank, the only major, non-reusable part of the space shuttle, is neither as wide as Endeavour (32 feet versus 78 feet) nor as high (35 feet versus 56 feet). Because of this, fewer utilities will be impacted and no trees will be removed along ET’s route from the coast to Exposition Park, though some light trimming may be necessary. The path it will take through the streets was planned with input from city officials, utilities and community groups.

The route is as follows –
• Marina Del Rey parking lot to Fiji Way
• Fiji Way to Lincoln (PCH)
• Lincoln to Mindanao Way
• Mindanao Way to CA-90
• CA-90 to Culver Blvd
• Culver Blvd. to Lincoln via transition ramp
• Lincoln to Loyola Blvd
Loyola Blvd. to Westchester Pkwy
• Westchester Parkway turns into Arbor Vitae St. at Airport Blvd; Arbor Vitae St. to La Brea Ave
• La Brea Ave. to Manchester Blvd
• Manchester Blvd. to Vermont Ave
• Vermont Ave. to Martin Luther King Blvd.?
• Martin Luther King Blvd. to Exposition Park.

The journey through the streets to the Science Center is expected to take 13-18 hours. Here are approximate timeframes when ET-94 may be passing by specific locations. All projected times are subject to change at any point on May 21, 2016, the day of the transport.

• Leave the marina – Approximately 12:01 am
• Arbor Vitae between Inglewood Ave. and Rosewood Ave. – Approximately 8:00 to 9:30 am
• Forum – Approximately 12 pm to 2 pm
• Manchester & Vermont – Approximately 2:30 to 4:00 pm
• Vermont & MLK – Approximately 6:30 to 8:00 pm
• Expo Park – Approximately 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm

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