A space-themed party will be held in Marina del Rey tonight to celebrate the visit, and impending departure, of a 66,000-pound external space shuttle fuel tank that will be towed through the streets of Los Angeles to its new home at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
Known as ET-94, the fuel tank arrived at Fisherman’s Village around 6 a.m. Wednesday on a barge dragged by a tugboat. The tank will ultimately be placed in an upright display with the retired space shuttle Endeavour, giving the Science Center the only full display of a shuttle in launch position with an attached fuel tank and rockets.
In honor of the large orange tank’s layover in Marina del Rey, the
county will sponsor a Party in the Park at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, from 5 to 9 p.m. The event will feature a DJ playing music, food trucks and space-themed carnival games and activities.
Exhibits will also be on display from the California Science Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northrop Grumman and Columbia Memorial Space Center.
The marina’s Beach Shuttle, which normally operates only during summer months, will be running to transport visitors around the area. The Marina del Rey Waterbus is also offering special service during ET-94’s visit.
Just hours after the party ends, ET-94 will begin making the slow journey from Marina del Rey to Exposition Park The 13- to 18-hour trek through Los Angeles is scheduled to begin before dawn Saturday.
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 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 sportfishing 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.