Holbrook Accomplishes Panama Program to View Passage of Last Shuttle Fuel Tank

Special Program Developed for California Science Center Members to Witness the Final Panama Canal Passage of the Space Shuttle Fuel Tank


GAINESVILLE, FL, May 6, 2016 – Holbrook Travel, a pioneer in education field expeditions, recently completed a unique program for members of the California Science Center to observe the historic passage of the last remaining NASA space shuttle external tank through Panama. This invite-only trip took place April 23-28, 2016 in Panama as part of the tank’s journey to Los Angeles where it will be exhibited at the Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. Once the exhibit opens, it will provide the only display of an entire stack of flight hardware – an orbiter, external tank and solid rocket boosters.

“We’re delighted to have been chosen for this exciting event,” stated Andrea Holbrook, President of Holbrook Travel. “Education is the foundation of our mission and we specialize in unique travel programs so this milestone journey came natural to us. Plus, our experience operating in Panama with its logistical challenges came in handy.” The six-day travel program “Mission: Panama! with California Science Center” was designed to be flexible to accommodate the unpredictable timing of the shuttle’s passage through the canal. The itinerary called for several viewings, plus an array of educational activities in Panama including natural history, birding and canal history.

NASA transferred the last external tank, known as ET-94, to the California Science Center last year. After the tank passes through the canal, it will arrive in Marina del Rey for the final leg of the journey, making its way through urban streets to the Science Center in Exposition Park. A feat of engineering, ET-94 is 153.8 feet in length, taller than a 15-story building and costs $75 million. NASA was going to put it on display at its factory when they realized it would be better to have it at a museum.

“Holbrook Travel has been a great partner in this program,” said Jeffrey N. Rudolph, president of the Science Center. “Their expertise and connections within Panama were vital and instrumental to getting the program developed in a very short amount of time. They were responsive and flexible as we had to develop a schedule that could change until the day we arrived in Panama with the schedule for ET-94’s transit of the canal not finalized, due to the unpredictability of weather and tidal patterns.” The idea to provide the program to its Science Center members was finalized in January, leaving only a few weeks to organize all the details. Rudolph explained the significance of the project, “Having the donation of this last flight-ready space shuttle external tank allows the Science Center to fulfill its vision of building a full-stack of real hardware for Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final display in the launch position, making an even more compelling educational experience.” An extensive article in the LA Times chronicles the project.

“The sight of the immense fuel tank passing through the equally massive canal was a special moment,” related Lisa Palmese-Graubard, Holbrook’s program coordinator. “Many last-minute schedule changes made this event especially challenging, but we ended up with fabulous views for our participants.” In addition to several locations to witness the passage, the group was invited by the Panama Ambassador to a special reception at the Embassy.



The California Science Center is a dynamic destination where families, adults and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films. The Center is located in historic Exposition Park just west of the Harbor (110) Freeway at 700 Exposition Park Drive.  The Science Center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. General admission is free. For information, phone (323) SCI-ENCE or visit the website californiasciencecenter.org.



Holbrook Travel was founded on the mission to facilitate a true connection between our travelers and our destinations. Since 1974, we’ve taken thousands of travelers on expeditions across Latin America, Africa, and destinations beyond. We combine reliable travel support with deep knowledge to create enriching travel experiences that last a lifetime. The Holbrook Story began when founder Giovanna Holbrook led two University of Florida science professors and a group of naturalists to the Galápagos Islands. The company embarked on a mission to design travel programs that were both educational and affordable. More than 40 years later, Holbrook Travel continues to serve the needs of teachers, students, academic institutions, conservation organizations, and nature lovers.


Holbrook Media Contact:

Christopher Bensley

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Holbrook Travel


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