||Marion Power Shovel
||Two 2,750 hp (2,050 kW) V16 Alco diesel engines. Two 1,006 hp (750 kW) generators, driven by two 1,065 hp (794 kW) engines, are used for jacking, steering, lighting, and ventilating.
||16 traction motors, powered by four 1,341 hp (1,000 kW) generators
||131 ft (40 m)
||114 ft (35 m)
||Adjustable, 20 to 26 ft (6 to 8 m)
||2,721 t (2,721,000 kg; 6,000,000 lb)
The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. They were originally used to transport the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets during the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs. They were then used to transport Space Shuttles from 1981 to 2011. The crawler-transporters carry vehicles on the Mobile Launcher Platform, and after each launch return to the pad to take the platform back to the VAB.
The two crawler-transporters were designed and built by Marion Power Shovel (later Caterpillar, Inc.) using components designed and built by Rockwell International at a cost of US$14 million each. Upon its construction, the crawler-transporter became the largest land vehicle in the world; while the Bagger 288 would later take this title, the crawler-transporter remains the largest self-powered land vehicle.
The crawler-transporter carrying the Ares I-X
on its test flight
The crawler-transporter has a mass of 2,721 tonnes (2,721,000 kg; 6,000,000 lb) and has eight tracks, two on each corner. Each track has 57 shoes, and each shoe weighs 1,984 pounds (900 kg). The vehicle measures 131 by 114 feet (40 by 35 m). The height from ground level to the platform is adjustable from 20 to 26 ft (6.1 to 7.9 m), and each side can be raised and lowered independently of the other. The crawler uses a laser guidance system and a leveling system to keep the Mobile Launcher Platform level within 10 minutes of arc (about 1 foot (30 cm) at the top of the Saturn V), while moving up the 5% grade to the launch site. A separate laser docking system provides pinpoint accuracy when the crawler-transporter and Mobile Launch Platform are positioned in the VAB or at the launch pad. A team of nearly 30 engineers, technicians and drivers operate the vehicle.
A crawler-transporter carrying Discovery
travels the ramp to Launch Pad 39B
. The vehicle's back end can be raised, keeping the Shuttle and the MLP level.
The crawlers were overhauled in 2003 with upgrades to the Motor Control Center, which houses the switchgear and electrical controls of all of major systems on board, a new engine and pump ventilation system and new diesel engine radiators, and replacement of the two driver cabs on each vehicle (one on each end). As of 2003, each crawler had 16 traction motors, powered by four 1,341 horsepower (1,000 kW) generators, in turn driven by two 2,750 horsepower (2,050 kW) V16 Alco diesel engines. Two 1,006 horsepower (750 kW) generators, driven by two 1,065 horsepower (794 kW) engines, were used for jacking, steering, lighting, and ventilating. Two 201 horsepower (150 kW) generators were also available to power the Mobile Launcher Platform. The crawler's tanks held 5,000 US gallons (19,000 l; 4,200 imp gal) of diesel fuel, and it burned 125.7 US gal/mi (296 l/km; 104.7 imp gal/mi).. Due to its age and the need to support the Space Launch System's heavier Ares V and its launch tower, in mid-2012 one of the crawlers was undergoing an upgrade involving "new engines, new exhausts, new brakes, new hydraulics, new computers,” to increase its lifting capacity from 12,000,000 pounds (5,400,000 kg) to 18,000,000 pounds (8,200,000 kg).
The crawler is controlled from two control cabs located at either end of the vehicle, and travels along the 3.5 miles (5.6 km) crawlerway at a maximum speed of 1 mile per hour (1.6 km/h) loaded, or 2 miles per hour (3.2 km/h) unloaded. The average trip time from the VAB along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39 is about five hours. Each crawlerway is 7 ft (2 m) deep and covered with Alabama and Tennessee river rock for its low friction properties to reduce the possibility of sparks. In 2000, NASA unearthed and restored an Apollo-era segment of the crawlerway to provide access to a high-bay building in order to provide protection from a hurricane.
Kennedy Space Center has been using the same two crawlers, nicknamed "Hans" and "Franz" for the bodybuilding characters, since their initial delivery in 1965. In their lifetime, they have traveled more than 3,400 miles (5,500 km), about the same driving distance as from Miami to Seattle.
The crawler-transporters have featured in television and movies. In a season three episode of Dirty Jobs, host Mike Rowe helps workers maintain a crawler-transporter and takes the vehicle for a short drive. The crawler was also seen in the 1995 film Apollo 13 and the 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
In the Fallout 3 video game add-on pack "Broken Steel", the US government survivors, The Enclave, have a mobile base built on and into a heavily modified crawler.
Crawlerway junction at the LC-39 observation gantry. The right track leads to pad LC-39A (pictured with the Space Shuttle Endeavour), while the left track leads to pad LC-39B.
- ^ "Kennedy Prepares to Host Constellation". NASA.gov. September 28, 2007. Retrieved June 7, 2009.
- ^ a b Peddie, Matthew (September 5, 2012). "NASA's Historic Giant Crawler Gets a Tune Up for Modern Times (Pics)". Transportation Nation.
- ^ a b c "Crawler - Transporter". NASA.gov. April 21, 2003. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- ^ "KSC-05PD-1322". NASA.gov. June 15, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- ^ "Countdown! NASA Launch Vehicles and Facilities". NASA.gov. October 1991. PMS 018-B. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
- ^ a b c "Crawler Transporter". Return to Flight Spotlight (NASA) (1). April 2004. Archived from the original on March 20, 2009.
- ^ Halvorson, Todd (August 13, 2000). "Shuttle Safe Haven Opens at Kennedy Space Center". Space.com. Archived from the original on September 20, 2005.
- ^ Sands, Jason (May 2007). "NASA's Diesel-Powered Shuttle Movers". Diesel Power.
- ^ "The Complete Dirty Jobs Show Guide: 2007". Discovery.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2012.
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