Huge Space Shuttle Fuel Tank Squeezes Down LA Streets

It was expected to take up to 18 hours to move the tank 16 miles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2016 4:15 PM CDT
The space shuttle external propellant tank is moved through the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday, May 21, 2016. The ET-94 will be displayed with the retired space shuttle Endeavour at the California...   (Chris Carlson)
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(Newser) – A massive space shuttle fuel tank squeezed through the streets of Los Angeles and loomed over vehicles on a busy freeway Saturday to join the retired orbiter Endeavour on display at the California Science Center, the AP reports. The 33-ton, 154-foot-long external propellant tank began moving a few minutes after midnight from coastal Marina del Rey, where it arrived by barge Wednesday, to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles. The orange-brown, sausage-shaped tank—the last of its kind—traveled at about 5 mph. Crews trimmed a few trees and unbolted a stoplight pole and turned it so the arm wouldn't hit the towering tank.

The journey was expected to take 13 to 18 hours to squeeze down 16.5 miles of streets, avenue, and boulevards to Exposition Park near downtown. The move began with a bit of fanfare. A New Orleans-style jazz band played When the Saints Go Marching In and some people waved handkerchiefs to wish the tank bon voyage. Known as ET-94, it was NASA's last flight-qualified external tank but was never used before the shuttle program came to an end. Inside ET-94 are two internal tanks for millions of pounds of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as well as other equipment. The tank's surface is covered with a layer of foam to keep the propellants at the proper temperature, reduce the formation of ice and to provide protection from heat as it sped through the atmosphere. (Read more space shuttle stories.)

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