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Giant Space Shuttle Fuel Tank To Trek Across The City In May

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By now we're used to the ritual associated with moving extremely large objects across Los Angeles streets. Recall the 340-ton rock for LACMA's Levitated Mass installation, transported from a quarry in Riverside in an epic nine-day trek. Or remember the Space Shuttle Endeavour, inching its way across South Los Angeles as it made its way from LAX to the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

Of course, the Shuttle was just the Shuttle, and didn't include the extra booster rockets or the distinctive rust-orange external fuel tank that the Space Shuttle would be perched with on the launchpad.

Come May though, a giant, 15-story tall external fuel tank will arrive in Los Angeles destined for the Space Shuttle Endeavour pavilion at the California Sciene Center, according to the L.A. Times. There, the Endeavour will eventually be displayed in its upright launch position with the tank.

Right now the tank is very far away, in New Orleans. Over the next couple months, it will travel a logistically complicated journey from the Big Easy to the City of Angels. Most of the journey will be accomplished on a barge, pulled by tugboats across the Gulf of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and up the coast of Central America before it reaches L.A.

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Once it arrives here on May 18, it will be loaded onto a 42-wheel dolly. Three days later on May 21, it will begin its 16.5-mile, 18-hour long trek from Marina Del Rey to Exposition Park.

When the Shuttle Endeavour first arrived in Los Angeles, museum administrators played with the idea of building a replica tank, according to Tech Times. The large external fuel tanks were designed to break away from the Space Shuttle in the Earth's upper atmosphere, and break up during reentry.

Conveniently though, NASA just happened to have an extra tank lying around, originally intended for use on a low-earth-orbit mission that never came to fruition. The space agency agreed to donate the tank to the museum, completing the final piece of the puzzle for the Shuttle Endeavour's display. Though the $75 million tank is technically different from those used to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, it is visually similar and will make a perfect fit for the eventual display at the ScienCenter.

Museum officials estimate they'll have the whole upright display put together by 2018.

If you haven't seen the Shuttle Endeavour at the Science Center yet, you should. In its current display, museum visitors can walk underneath the shuttle and really get a sense of scale and wonder, being so close to an object that has been to space multiple times.

Admission to the museum is free, but you'll need a $2 timed reservation ticket if you want to see the Shuttle up close. You can make reservations online at the museum's website. Take the Expo Line on the way there and avoid paying for parking!