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First Flight Tank For Final Shuttle Mission Heads for Florida

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Lockheed Martin Space Systems
: 05 May, 2010  (Application Story)
Lockheed Martin has loaded External Tank-137 to its transportation barge to take the 900 mile journey to the Kennedy Space Centre
First Flight Tank For Final Shuttle Mission Heads for Florida
External Tank-137 is scheduled to depart the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility at 8 pm CDT bound for the Kennedy Space Centre. Lockheed Martin completed the build of ET-137 for NASA on April 30 and rolled the tank into the enclosed barge, Pegasus, on May the 1st. However, high winds in the New Orleans area delayed earlier plans to depart Michoud.

The voyage to Kennedy Space Centre is 900 miles and will take approximately six days. Two tugs will escort Pegasus and ET-137 due east in the Intracoastal Canal to the Port of Gulfport where Solid Rocket Booster retrieval ship Freedom Star is waiting to tow the tank across the Gulf of Mexico, around Key West and up the eastern side of Florida to Kennedy Space Centre. Freedom Star is expected to arrive at KSC on May 9.

Lockheed Martin has built 133 flight Tanks for the Space Shuttle program, which is scheduled to end later this year after 29 years. ET-137 is the next-to-last flight tank that will be delivered to KSC and is currently scheduled to propel shuttle Endeavour to orbit in mid-November for its flight to the International Space Station, the final shuttle mission.

Lockheed Martin is also building ET-138, which is scheduled to be finished next month and will fly with shuttle Discovery on September 16. In addition, the company is constructing ET-122, a spare launch-on-need tank that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina, but is not scheduled to fly.

Too large to travel by rail or interstate highway, the External tank stands 15 stories tall (154 feet) and is almost 28 feet in diameter. ET-137 will weigh close to 1.7 million pounds when loaded with 535,000 gallons of propellant prior to launch.
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