Press Release

California Science Center Donates Water Tanks To NASA’s International Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
August 21, 2015
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NASA engineers this week completed the successful removal of four water tanks and one waste tank from Endeavour, a donation from the California Science Center Foundation to NASA. “We were glad to be able to fill NASA’s need to reuse Endeavour’s water tanks and put them to good use on the International Space Station. They were located under the mid-deck in a non-visible area. Our Endeavour Space Shuttle exhibit , the part that is on view to the public, remains exactly as it was before and continues its mission to inspire curiosity and science learning,” said Science Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rudolph.

During the removal process the shuttle attracted former Endeavour astronauts Drew Feustel and Mark Kelly, who was joined by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. This was the first time Mark Kelly had been inside the shuttle since he was Commander of Endeavour’s final mission in 2011.

The shuttles were designed to be reused. Endeavour’s water tanks have approximately 75 percent of design-life remaining since the shuttle only flew 25 of the 100 missions anticipated. The only major non-reusable part of the shuttle launch configuration is the External Tank.

NASA recently donated the only remaining flight qualified External Tank (ET-94) in existence to the California Science Center to enable it to fulfill its goal of displaying a full shuttle stack when it unveils the shuttle in launch position at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center expected to open in 2018. Rudolph joked that, “we like that kind of trade, water tanks in exchange for a 154-foot External Tank!”

The ET-94 is expected to make its journey from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the Science Center in Los Angeles in early 2016 depending on weather conditions and the progress of cosmetic restorations. The entire journey will take six to eight weeks.

This will mark the only time an ET has traveled through urban streets and will evoke memories of when Endeavour traveled 12-miles from the Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center and was cheered on by a crowd of 1.5 million in 2012.

Longer than Endeavour, the ET was the Orbiter’s massive “gas tank” and contained the propellants used by the Space Shuttle Main Engines (though ET-94 is empty). The tank is neither as wide as Endeavour (32 feet versus 78 feet) nor as high (35 feet versus 56 feet). Because of this, fewer utilities will be impacted and no trees will be removed along ET’s route from the coast to Exposition Park, though some trimming may be necessary. The path it will take through the streets is currently being planned with city officials, utilities and community groups.

SpaceRef staff editor.