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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Space Shuttle Fuel Tank Makes Last Trip At 5mph

A gigantic fuel tank from a space shuttle has been ferried through the streets of Los Angeles to join the retired orbiter Endeavour on display at the California Science Center.


The 33-tonne, 154ft-long external storage container dwarfed vehicles as it squeezed through the suburbs on the back of a truck at 5mph.
Workers trimmed a number of trees and even unbolted a traffic light to ensure it did not hit the towering sausage-shaped orange-brown propellant tank.
The tank will be displayed upright along with the shuttle and two solid-rocket boosters, as if ready for takeoff.
The journey was expected to take up to 18 hours to make the 16-mile journey to its final resting place.
The tank was shipped to California by barge from a NASA facility in Louisiana.
The tank travelled through the Panama Canal to the Pacific before arriving at the Los Angeles harbour of Marina del Rey, where it was offloaded to await the weekend move.
It was given a send off with a New Orleans-style jazz band playing When the Saints Go Marching In and people waving handkerchiefs.
Known as ET-94, it was NASA's last flight-approved external tank, but was never used before the shuttle programme came to an end.
External tanks not only carried propellant for space shuttles' main engines, but were also central to the launch system.
An orbiter and two solid rocket boosters would be attached to the tank for blast-off into space.
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 was 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.
External tanks used on shuttle missions would be destroyed, burning up as they fell back through the atmosphere after being ejected by the orbiter.
ET-94 had been built for use by the shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated over Texas as it was returning from a mission.
An investigation found that foam fell off that mission's external tank during launch and punctured a wing, which led to its break up on re-entry.
Pieces of foam from ET-94 were used in tests as part of the inquiry.

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