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NASA fuel tank will snake through LA streets Saturday: Here's how to see it

An external tank from a space shuttle arrived on the Southern California coast Wednesday morning. It will be docked in Marina del Rey for three days before heading out on Saturday for its final destination at the California Science Center. 

The expedition began in April from New Orleans and it traveled through the Panama Canal to get here.

ET-94, a donation from NASA, is the last flight-qualified external tank in existence, the Science Center's Shell Amega told KPCC. 

People can see it while it's still harbored, but the 154-foot tank will depart the dock Saturday morning and crawl its way through the streets of Los Angeles — with a travel time of approximately 13-18 hours. 

Where to be

As far as parking goes, anyone can try Lot 52 in Marina del Rey, or park even farther out and take a beach shuttle to check out the tank during the week before it starts its Saturday journey, Amega said.

On Friday night, you can head to the ET Party in the Park at Burton Chace Park in Marina Del Rey from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be a DJ, food truck, space themed carnival-style games and science exhibits. 

When Saturday comes, here's the route ET-94 will take: 

The shuttle will take 13-18 to make its way from Marina del Rey to the California Science Center.
California Science Center
The shuttle will take 13-18 to make its way from Marina del Rey to the California Science Center.

On Saturday morning, Amega said one of the best places to be is on Arbor Vitae Street between Inglewood and Rosewood avenues from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Not only is that one of the best times to check out ET-94, but also to meet some of the astronauts who will be walking alongside it at a brisk walking pace of 3 to 4 miles-per-hour.

Along the route, Amega said the best places to catch a glimpse of the tank would be where where it's turning corners, such as La Brea and Manchester or Vermont and Manchester.

At the end of its journey, ET-94 will cross a paper chain "finish line" at the science center. The chain was constructed by students at the center's school and will feature messages inscribed on its links.

Once it makes its way home, it will join the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center for display to comprise the first complete shuttle stack to be seen in launch position, said Amega. She said she hopes the sight will excite people as much as the Endeavour did when it roamed the streets. 

“We want to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers and engineers. There’s nothing like the real thing to inspire people,” she said.

This story has been updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Lot 52's location. KPCC regrets the error.