Who knew I would find a piece of NASA history just sitting there in a VERY usual setting an industrial park and not a museum.
Not the RoadsideTravels team that’s for sure. Well, low and behold there it was.
Yes, you are seeing it right! That is a the last external tank for a space shuttle. This tank, in particular, was primarily used for loading and stress analysis tests in the 70s and from then it was on display in two museums before making its way to the Kenndy Space Center.
Known as the Structural Test Article (STA), the external tank was built in 1977 and used for loading and stress analysis tests. It was then exhibited at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. In 1987, it was shipped to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for display where it remained for 10 years, prior to its transfer to Kennedy. – CollectSpace.com
Between 2012 and 2013 the tank was moved to make way for the Atlantis space shuttle exhibit and was on its way to the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum.
The reason it has been sitting here for all these years, to put it simply, logistics. Granted it only has about 50 or so miles to go before it reaches its destination but the road to get it there will be very difficult.
Several miles of power and telephone lines, traffic signals and road closures needed to ensure a smooth trip for the 154 foot, 15 stories tall artifact will take some planning. In the meantime we were all excited (not even the best word for how we felt) to be able to see this part of history up close and personal without a rope separating us or having to wait in line.
It was funny having my husband and our youngest standing next to it, they look like ants next to this thing.
In doing some research, I was able to find some photos of when it was originally in transit from the museum to where it sits today.
It is not yet know when the tank will get to its final destination.
Seeing this brought back many fond memories of visiting the Kennedy Space Center on a field trip for middle school. Do you have any NASA-related memories to share? Let us know in the comments below!