Two-and-a-half days after a dramatic sea rescue, the tugboat crew hauling a space shuttle fuel tank to California bid farewell to some unexpected passengers last night in San Diego.
The Shannon Dann, which left New Orleans with the tank on May 12, was off the coast of Baja California Thursday evening when it encountered the sportfishing boat Maximus in distress. The Maximus' four-person crew was forced to abandon ship and climb into a small, orange life raft. The Maximus reportedly sank shortly thereafter.
Footage shot by a Shannon Dann crewmember shows the Maximus crew—three Americans and one Mexican national—tossing lines and gear aboard the shuttle tug. The video ends as the first passenger was being hauled out of the life raft.
Video: Tugboat hauling space shuttle tank makes dramatic sea rescue Video: Shannon Dann / California Science Center / The Planetary Society
Another photograph taken from the Shannon Dann shows the Maximus and its lifeboat at sea. The cause of the Maximus' sinking was not immediately clear.
Want to send a huge thanks to all of our family, friends and the thousands of anglers that had concerns for our safety. We are back home, well and in great spirits. This is what we do and we do it the best we can. Until the big pond decides to takes Nicole and I we will be right back at it bigger and better then ever. Thank you to all of our loyal anglers that have supported us through this transition. The biggest loss was all the amazing photos that went down with the Maximus. Please post your best pics for our library so we share with the community of our circle. RIP "Maximus" you will be missed.
Capt Keith, Nicole, Capt Evaristo and Crew
The Shannon Dann and the shuttle tank, known as ET-94, completed their journey to San Diego without incident, arriving at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal early Sunday at about 3:30 a.m. The San Diego stop was already planned as a way to give the crew schedule margin before embarking on the short, final leg of the trip to Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 17. The tank will arrive at Marina del Rey Wednesday.
At midnight on Friday, May 20, ET-94 will start its journey through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center. The trip is expected to take nearly 20 hours, with the tank arriving at the science center between 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. ET-94 will ultimately be joined to space shuttle Endeavour—which is already on display at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion—and a pair of solid rocket boosters. The entire shuttle stack will be then be mounted in launch position for museum visitors.
Kevin Baird was on hand to greet ET-94 at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego today. Here are some photographs he captured for The Planetary Society: