“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

External Tank

Liquid Propellent Supply for Space Shuttle Main Engines

External Tank Marker image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 20, 2016
1. External Tank Marker
Inscription.  The tank exhibited at the U. S. Space & Rocket Center is real. It was delivered to NASA in 1977 it was the first ever built for the shuttle program. The tank was used in the Space Shuttle Main Engine test program at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for more than ten years. It provided fuel for twelve test firings of the Shuttle’s Main Propulsion System with a total test time of 3,810 seconds (equivalent to about eight flights). In 1988, it traversed 1,250 miles by barge over the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee rivers to be delivered to NASA’s Marshall Center here in Huntsville, Alabama.

The External Tanks fuels the Orbiters Main Engines during the first eight and a half minutes of flight with 550,000 gallons of liquid propellant. When the Shuttle nears orbital velocity at just over 70 miles above the Earth, the tank is jettisoned and tumbles back to Earth. The External Tank is the only major part of the Space Transportation System that is nor reused.

External Tank Data
Length: 153.8 ft
Diameter: 27.6 ft
Gross Lift-Off Weight: 1, 655,000 lbs.
Propellent Liquid Oxygen: 1,361,000 lbs
External Tank image. Click for full size.
By Sandra Hughes, September 20, 2016
2. External Tank
Liquid Hydrogen: 227,000 lbs
Prime Contractor: Martin Marietta Manned Space Systems
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceExploration.
Location. 34° 42.652′ N, 86° 39.15′ W. Marker is in Huntsville, Alabama, in Madison County. Marker can be reached from Tranquilty Base half a mile west of Madison Pike, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Tranquilty Base, Huntsville AL 35805, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Main Engines (a few steps from this marker); Pathfinder (within shouting distance of this marker); T-38 Talon (within shouting distance of this marker); Pathfinder Orbiter (within shouting distance of this marker); U.S. Army/NASA Juno II (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); NASA/U.S. Geological Survey (about 600 feet away); U.S. Army PGM-11 Redstone (about 600 feet away); Ms. Baker: Monkeynaut (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Huntsville.
Also see . . .  U.S. Space & Rocket Center. (Submitted on September 27, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 27, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 26, 2016, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 363 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 26, 2016, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Jun. 5, 2020