LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After a send-off that included a jazz band and a group of well wishers waving goodbye, ET-94 — the 66,000 external, space shuttle fuel tank — began its long, slow journey over city streets to its final resting place at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
The tank left its temporary home in Marina del Rey before sunrise.
Well-wishers who walked behind and alongside the fuel tank included Paula Madison, a member of the California Science Center Foundation Board of Trustees, astronaut Drew Feustel who flew on Endeavour’s last mission in 2011 and Lynda Oschin, chair of the Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Oschin Family Foundation. ET-94 will be permanently displayed along with the shuttle Endeavour in the Sanuel Oschin Air and Space Center.
It will take 13 to 18 hours to make the five mile per hour journey from Marina del Rey to Exposition Park.
Friday’s preparations for the fuel tank’s journey snarled traffic throughout the Marina Del Rey area because of street closures connected to the operation.
The caravan on Saturday was traveling down Lincoln and Culver boulevards to Westchester Parkway, then through Inglewood on Arbor Vitae Street to La Brea Avenue, past the Forum, and north on Vermont Avenue to the museum.
The shuttle Endeavour made a similar trip through the city in October 2012, attracting thousands of spectators lining streets from Los Angeles International Airport to Exposition Park.
The tank, the only major, non-reusable part of the space shuttle, is neither as wide as Endeavour, nor as high, although it is longer. Because of its size, fewer utilities will be affected and no trees will be removed along the route from the coast to Exposition Park, as was the case when Endeavour was hauled to its new home in 2012.
The 16.5-mile path ET-94 will take through the streets was planned with input from city officials, utilities and community groups.
The massive orange tank began its journey to Los Angeles on April 10, when it was pulled out of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Two days later, it was tugged into the Gulf of Mexico to begin a voyage that took it through the Panama Canal.
The sea journey made some headlines last week, when the crew of the tugboat pulling ET-94 helped rescue four people who had to abandon a sinking sport-fishing boat off the coast of Baja California.
ET-94 is NASA’s last remaining shuttle external tank. Unlike the solid rocket boosters and the shuttles themselves, the orange external fuel tanks used only once because they broke apart before they came down in the ocean. But ET-94 was never used.
The tank will cause some street closures in and around the Marina del Rey area.
Saturday, May 21, 2016 (1:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
Lincoln Boulevard south to Westchester Parkway
Westchester Parkway east to Arbor Vitae Street
Arbor Vitae Street east into the City of Inglewood
Saturday, May 21, 2016 (1:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.)
Manchester Avenue east to Vermont Avenue
Vermont Avenue north Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard
Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard east to Bill Robertson Lane
Bill Robertson Lane to final destination (California Science Center)
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