Sunday December 16, 2018

‘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
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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 Seeks US Partners to Develop Reusable Systems For Moon Mission

This process, known as in-situ resource utilization or ISRU, will make the third element also refuellable and reusable, it said

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NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Develop First Gateway Element
NASA seeks US partners to develop reusable systems for Moon mission, Pixabay

NASA is set to work with American companies to design and develop new reusable systems, in a major step to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon.

NASA is planning to test new human-class landers on the Moon beginning in 2024, with the goal of sending crew to the surface in 2028, the US space agency said in a statement on Thursday.

Through upcoming multi-phased lunar exploration partnerships, NASA will ask American companies to study the best approach to landing astronauts on the Moon and start the development as quickly as possible with current and future anticipated technologies.

“Building on our model in low-Earth orbit, we’ll expand our partnerships with industry and other nations to explore the Moon and advance our missions to farther destinations such as Mars, with America leading the way,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“When we send astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion.”

To develop lunar robotic landers, NASA in November collaborated with nine commercial American companies namely Astrobotic, Deep Space Systems, Firefly Aerospace, Intuitive Machines, Lockheed Martin, Mastern Space Systems, Moon Express, Draper and Orbit Beyond.

UAE, Moon
The International Space Station, center, passes in front of the Moon in its Earth orbit as photographed from Salgotarjan, Hungary, July 5, 2018. (VOA)

These companies are eligible for competing for NASA’s contracts valued at $2.6 billion, according to the US-based space agency.

The agency plans to send humans to the Moon using a system of three separate elements that will provide transfer, landing, and safe return.

Using the Gateway to land astronauts on the Moon allows the first building blocks for fully reusable lunar landers. Initially NASA expects two of the lander elements to be reusable and refuelled by cargo ships carrying fuel from Earth to the Gateway.

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The agency is also working on technologies to make rocket propellants using water ice and regolith from the Moon. Once the ability to harness resources from the Moon for propellant becomes viable, NASA plans to refuel these elements with the Moon’s own resources.

This process, known as in-situ resource utilization or ISRU, will make the third element also refuellable and reusable, it said. (IANS)