Wednesday March 27, 2019

‘ET Comes Home’: NASA’s fuel tank takes a street ride to LA museum

The California Science Center has called the mission "ET Comes Home," in a play on the "external tank" name and the 1982 movie "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."

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The space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank ET-94 makes its way to the California Science Center in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Archita Aggarwal

A giant orange NASA fuel tank began its final journey on Saturday, along city streets to a Los Angeles science center where it will be displayed with the space shuttle Endeavour.

The California Science Center has called the mission “ET Comes Home,” in a play on the “external tank” name and the 1982 movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

The transport is a sequel of sorts to the 2012 mission to tow Endeavour from the Los Angeles airport to the science center, a project that captivated crowds of onlookers.

NASA
NASA building in US. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

But the 65,000-pound (29,484 kg) fuel tank, which is 154 feet (47 meter) long, is neither as wide nor tall as the space shuttle, which museum officials said means it can more easily squeeze through city streets as it is towed by truck on rolling dollies from Marina del Rey, where it had arrived on a barge.

ET-94’s route took it past a major highway and covered more than 16 miles (26 km) to the California Science Center just south of downtown Los Angeles, in a journey that ended on Saturday evening, the museum said.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) donated the fuel tank, which was designed to carry propellants to thrust a space shuttle into orbit and then detach, mostly disintegrating as it fell to the ocean.

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Archita is an intern at NewsGram and is pursuing bachelor’s of journalism and mass communication. Contact the author at Twitter-Archita001

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NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Due to Lack of Small Spacesuit

"An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen"

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NASA, women, space suit
U.S. astronaut Anne McClain waves before the launch of Soyuz MS-11 space ship at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

What should have been a giant leap for womankind has turned into a stumble on the path to equality after U.S. space agency NASA canceled the first all-female spacewalk due to a lack of a spacesuit in the right size.

Anne McClain and Christina Koch had been due to step into history books in a spacewalk Friday, during the final week of Women’s History Month.

But McClain will now give up her place on the mission to her male colleague Nick Hague, NASA announced late Monday.

“Mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA, spacesuit, women
FILE – U.S. astronaut Christina Koch attends her final exam at the Gagarin Cosmonauts’ Training Center in Star City outside Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

“McClain learned during her first spacewalk that a medium-size hard upper torso — essentially the shirt of the spacesuit — fits her best. Because only one medium-size torso can be made ready by Friday, March 29, Koch will wear it.”

Nearly 60 years after the first human blasted off into space, less than 11 percent of the 500 plus people who have traveled to space have been women, and spacewalk teams have either been all-male or male-female.

McClain and Koch were both part of the 2013 NASA class that was 50 percent women.

NASA said the decision to change the plan was made in consultation with McClain after a spacewalk last week.

“Anne trained in M and L and thought she could use a large but decided after Friday’s spacewalk a medium fits better,” wrote spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz on Twitter.

nasa, women, space walk
The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue. Pixabay

“In this case, it’s easier (and faster!) to change spacewalkers than reconfigure the spacesuit.”

The NASA announcement was met with disappointment and anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue.

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Others said they were sad that a milestone moment on women’s space exploration had been deferred, but safety came first.

“I’m super disappointed about the all-woman spacewalk not happening as scheduled this Friday but I’m also super supportive of astronauts having the authority to say ‘I would be safer using a different piece of equipment’,” wrote Emily Lakdawalla, a senior editor at the U.S. nonprofit The Planetary Society.

“An all-woman spacewalk WILL eventually happen.” (VOA)