The fuel tank arrived at Exposition Park at about 6:15 p.m. It sailed through its route from Marina Del Rey to the California Science Center, arriving far ahead of schedule.
Shortly after 7 p.m., thousands of spectators cheered, whistled and waved American flags as the tank inched its way to its final destination beside a pavilion housing the Space Shuttle at Exposition Park.
Among them was Monty Icenogle, 36, who traveled from Bakersfield. Icenogle, who has been blind since birth, is a Space Shuttle buff.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he said, as the immense fuel tank was being nestled into its new home just 100 yards away. “This will never happen again, but because it did today, we are now in the only place on earth where you will be able to admire a space shuttle in full launch configuration.”
“So, its final mission accomplished,” he said with a smile. “How cool is that?”
The giant orange fuel tank, called ET-94, is on its final stretch. Its expected arrival is now forecast between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Mioko Lollis, 32, said her 11-year-old son, Jamier Flowers, had been talking for days about seeing the tank as it passed just a block from their home.
"This is like a once in a lifetime thing to see it," Lollis said. "I remember watching it on the news, but for him, this is history."
Flowers peered down the street. "It's getting closer, Mom!" he said. "I can see it!"
The fuel tank is almost home!
The space shuttle system's last existing fuel tank is expected to arrive at Exposition Park between 5:30 p.m to 7 p.m, a spokeswoman for the California Science Center Foundation said.
As the tank rumbled north like a huge orange torpedo toward downtown, Eric Finister, 51, tightened his grip on a walking cane and weighed his words carefully.
“You’d think something this darn big couldn’t get off the ground,” he said. “Yet it lifted off of the face of the Earth and soared into the heavens to fetch new knowledge for mankind.”
He paused, then smiled, and added, “Look what we can do when we put our minds to it.”
Nancy Smith, 75, had arrived hours early to secure a ringside seat: A chair that was part of a dining room offered for sale on the sidewalk.
“I missed Part One of this story — the space shuttle — when it came through town four years ago,” she said.
“I’m not about to miss the conclusion — the big gas tank.”
Proceeding gingerly in the company of giants, Jeffrey Rudolph, president and chief executive officer of the California Science Center, rode alongside ET-94 and its 42-tire transport vehicle as it began to turn from Manchester Avenue on to Vermont Avenue.
Wide roads at the intersection, roughly six miles south of downtown Los Angeles, provided an especially scenic opportunity for photographers as the 66,000-pound gas tank for the space shuttle scooted through the commercial area of pawn shops, thrift stores and nail salons with surprising efficiency and precision.
Nodding toward the jaw-dropping scale of it all, Rudolph shook his head in amazement and said: “I’ve been watching the thing closely out of concern that all goes well.”
“With the exception of a few minor delays early on,” added Rudolph, who planned to walk the entire 16.5-mile route with the tank, “things are just great.”
As Rudolph spoke, police officers used bullhorns to keep the crowds from spilling off the sidewalk and into the roadway, where crews had earlier dismantled light poles in the tank’s path.
Things are just great.
The fuel tank is on track to arrive at Exposition Park at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., said Mark Albrecht, director of operations for the company directing the move, Emmert International.
It will wait at Bill Robertson Lane for the green light to enter Exposition Park.
The fuel tank has sailed through one of its final turns.
It has left Manchester Avenue and is heading north up Vermont Avenue.
ET-94 has about four miles to go before reaching Exposition Park.
The behemoth fuel tank is approaching one of its last major turns on a public street: Manchester and Vermont avenues.
The colossal fuel tank has reached its last city border, leaving Inglewood and headed to its final home city: Los Angeles.
From the border at Manchester and Van Ness avenues, it's less than 5 miles to reach Exposition Park, which is home to its final destination.
The gargantuan fuel tank is almost through Inglewood, about to turn into the Los Angeles city boundaries before it makes one of its last big turns on a public street.
The 15-story-long tank will turn left from Manchester Avenue onto Vermont Avenue between 2:30 and 4 p.m.
California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph said the journey has been great. "Things are going really well. We're excited," Rudolph said.
"We're excited about getting this thing to the California Science Center and the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center," he said.