Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scott And Carol Present - The Kennedy Space Center VAB Tour Ends Soon

You only have until 2/23/2014 to experience the KSC Up-Close Vehicle Assembly Building Tour. Completed in 1965 for the vertical assembly of the massive Saturn 5 rockets that carried man to the moon, it is still the largest single story building in the world. 525 feet tall, clouds have actually formed inside during high humidity days. These tours are ending as the building is being repurposed from assembling the space shuttle launch stack to the new different spacecraft of the future. It will be the only building that can host several different kinds of rockets and spacecraft simultaneously.

The tour route takes you through the Transfer Aisle, where components are trucked in and then lifted  by any of the five overhead cranes with lifting capacities  from 50 to 325 tons. You can walk through the only building to have assembled rockets that flew humans to the surface of another world. The renovation process will remove 150 miles of lead and copper wire that will be replaced with fiber optic systems. Here are more renovation details

The building has been available for tours until the modifications for the Space Launch System are begun. The new rockets will be larger than the old Saturn V's, so the extensive modifications are required to the high bays. Since the new systems will weigh 25 million pounds versus 18 million pounds of the Saturn V, new floors and foundations are required.

A large and small capacity crane are part of the tour as you walk through the Transfer Aisle of the largest building in the world by volume. At the end of the tour, you definitely will feel it in your neck from looking way up to the roof from inside.

Here is a look up into a high bay. You can see the one of the overhead cranes that can move a suspended part distances from 500 feet to just thousandths of an inch during the rocket mating process.   

Good luck banners adorn the Transfer Aisle, signed by all the members of the mission assembly crew to recognize their efforts in the program and exhort each other.

This is the business end of the largest capacity crane  which is controlled from cab near the ceiling.

Here is the head of the smaller crane, which is small only relative to the larger crane. Some of this infrastructure supporting the cranes will also be updated for the new challenges.

Every component has its own specially designed attachment cradle, to ensure nothing is damaged during assembly. Once various different spacecraft are designed and utilized, many more of these pieces will be required. The design, storage, and use of these cradles will be an extensive project on its own. You never want to have the next item you need stacked way in the back of the room when the parts arrive.

And, click here for information on the Kennedy Space Center's Mega Close Up tour.

These tours were available many years ago but stopped in 1978. They started back up when the shuttle program ended last year. So, if you are going to be in Florida before they close, take advantage of this rare opportunity to experience a huge part of our space programs history. Our thanks to Andrea at the Kennedy Space Center for  giving us the opportunity to take these photos.