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Home / Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center

Science Center rolls fuel tank into position for upright shuttle display

A massive orange fuel tank was slowly moved about 1,000 feet through Exposition Park Wednesday, preparing it to be lifted into vertical position as part of the eventual upright, launch-ready display of the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center.

Moving the tank, known as ET-94, was a delicate operation, taking roughly two hours for the relatively short journey. ET-94 is 154 feet long, 27.5 feet in diameter and weighs about 65,000 pounds, according to the Science Center. It is also the last remaining flight-qualified external tank in existence.

Beginning at roughly 10 a.m. Wednesday, crews employed a “self- propelled modular transporter” for the tank’s 1,000-foot journey past the Science Center building and the Exposition Park Rose Garden to the site of the under-construction Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will house the one-of-a-kind shuttle display.

With the tank in place, a heavy-duty crane will be used to lift it into the air and then lower it into vertical position alongside two already-standing solid rocket boosters. Vertical assembly of the twin 149-foot tall rocket boosters was completed in early December. That assembly includes the aft skirts or base of the boosters, along with the 116-foot-long rocket motors and the “forward assembly,” or cone-shaped tops.

The lifting of the fuel tank is scheduled to occur sometime after 10 p.m. Thursday night, or possibly early Friday morning. Crews were monitoring wind conditions before committing to an exact time for the lift to occur.

The addition of ET-94 to the vertical display will leave the star attraction — the shuttle Endeavour itself — as the only component left to move.

It was unclear exactly when the shuttle will be moved from its existing horizontal display and lifted upright. Science Center officials said only that the move would occur in the “coming weeks.”

The Endeavour had been on display horizontally at the Science Center for more than a decade. Public access to the shuttle, however, ended on Dec. 31 so preparations could begin for its eventual move to the new exhibit, which will be the only launch-ready display of a former NASA space shuttle in the world.

Science Center officials have dubbed the months-long effort to create the vertical shuttle display as the “Go For Stack” process.

The shuttle launch display will be the centerpiece of the 200,000-square-foot Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which will nearly double the Science Center’s educational exhibition space. The building will include three multi-level galleries, themed for air, space and shuttle. The new facility will also house an events and exhibit center that will house large-scale rotating exhibitions.

An opening date for the new $400 million center has not yet been determined.

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