Photos: Massive Space Shuttle Fuel Tank Lands In L.A. To Join The Endeavour
A barge carrying a 15-story tall external fuel tank, the last of its kind from NASA, arrived in Marina del Rey early Wednesday morning.The enormous rust-orange fuel tank, known as ET-94, slowly cruised into the marina just before 6 a.m. where it will remain on view to the public until midnight on Friday, according to the L.A. Times. The 66,000-pound tank will then make a crawl at a snail's pace through South L.A. on Saturday, before finally joining the shuttle Endeavour—which made a similar crosstown journey—at the California Science Center, where it will be positioned vertically as though ready for launch.
The arrival of ET-94 in L.A. will bring to a close a month-long ocean voyage from NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, where the fuel tank was built. Pulled by a tugboat known as the Shannon Dann for 4,000 nautical miles, the tank weathered a storm in the Cayman Islands, passed through the Panama Canal and even helped to rescue four fisherman from their sinking boat off the coast of Baja.
ET-94 is the last remaining flight-ready external fuel tank of what was once a fleet of 136 built for the space shuttle program. Usually the tanks would detach from the shuttle and burn up in the atmosphere. However, ET-94's so-called "sister" tank ET-93 had been attached to the shuttle Columbia, which killed seven astronauts when it burned up on re-entry in 2003, and so ET-94 was never sent into space and instead used for the investigation into what went wrong.
Beginning today, ET-94 will be on view to the public at the marina. Then on Friday, there will be a "Party in the Park" to celebrate the tank's arrival from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., which will include a DJ, food trucks and science exhibits, according to KTLA.
Then on Friday at midnight, ET-94 will make its way across town and arrive Saturday at around 7:30 p.m. at the Science Center in Exposition Park, according to NBC.
This morning, crowds gathered to witness the arrival of ET-94 and capture it for posterity. "It's exciting, every time you see a piece of solid, all-American equipment," Capt. Rick Oefinger, who looked on, told the Times. "You feel kind of patriotic. You feel good."
Here some more photos and videos of the big arrival:
The race is on: