Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Last shuttle fuel tank to repeat Endeavour trip

LOS ANGELES — A 66,000-pound external fuel tank designed for one-time use in launching a space shuttle will traverse local streets May 21 en route to the California Science Center in Exposition Park, where it will join the now-retired Endeavour shuttle.

NASA’s last remaining shuttle external tank, dubbed ET-94, is larger and longer than Endeavour, which made a similar journey to the museum in October 2012.

Unlike the solid rocket boosters and the shuttles themselves, the orange external fuel tanks were never reused. Typically, they broke apart before they came down in the ocean.

NASA’s last remaining shuttle tank will travel by barge from Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana to Los Angeles, via the Panama Canal. It will then be placed on dollies and pulled by a truck to its final home in Exposition Park.

ET-94 is expected to arrive by tugboat at Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey on May 18, according to the Science Center.

The 18-hour trek through Los Angeles is scheduled to begin before dawn May 21.

The caravan will travel — at about 5 mph — 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 tank, the only major, non-reusable part of the space shuttle, is neither as wide as Endeavour, nor as high.

That means fewer utilities will be impacted and no trees will be removed along the route from the coast to Exposition Park, though some light trimming may be necessary, according to the museum.

The 16.5-mile path it will take through the streets was planned with input from city officials, utilities and community groups.

“With the transfer of ET-94 from NASA, we will have the ability to preserve and display an entire stack of flight hardware, making the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center an even more compelling educational experience,” said Science Center President Jeffrey N. Rudolph.

“With the same outpouring of community support we saw with the arrival of Endeavour, we look forward to celebrating this gift from NASA as it journeys from the coast through city streets to the California Science Center,” he said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the arrival of ET-94 marks another historic moment for the city.

“We are honored that NASA has entrusted the California Science Center and the city of Los Angeles with this incredible piece of history,” Garcetti said. “As the world’s last surviving flight-qualified space shuttle external tank journeys from the coast to its final home, it will inspire a new generation of Angelenos — who can dream the kind of dreams that make it possible for us to continue leading the world in innovation.”