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NASA's Giant Crawler-Transporter Is Getting an Upgrade

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the new-paint-job-and-millions-of-pounds-of-carrying-capacity dept.

NASA 135

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Transportation Nation: "Retired space shuttles are being readied for museums, but there's one piece of equipment at the Kennedy Space Center that dates back to before the moon landing and it's not going anywhere. NASA's giant crawler transporter is the only machine with enough muscle to move Apollo rockets and space shuttles out to the launch pad, and after nearly 50 years on the job the agency's decided there's still no better way to transport heavy loads. It's about as wide as a six lane highway, higher than a two story building, with huge caterpillar treads at each of its four corners. ... Crawler two is being upgraded from its current lifting capacity of 12 million pounds — the combined weight of the shuttle and mobile launcher — to 18 million pounds, for NASA’s new heavy lift rocket."

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Now It Can Finally Carry Your Mom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260237)

Okay okay, maybe just her dildo.

linkback (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260257)

An anonymous reader: "...at the Kennedy Space Center that dates back to before the moon landing and it's not going anywhere. NASA's giant crawler transporter is the only machine with enough muscle to move Apollo rockets and space shuttles out to the launch pad, and after nearly 50 years on the job the agency's decided there's still no better way..."

Stupid question... (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260261)

... but why don't they build the rocket on the take-off location and remove the building instead? It seems like a smaller effort, no?

Re:Stupid question... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260317)

I suspect they like they prefer to build rockets indoors (controlled environment, etc) and launch them outdoors (slight fire hazard, etc).

Re:Stupid question... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261303)

Then NASA needs to switch to Diet Coke and mentos for the initial boost rockets...

Re:Stupid question... (4, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260321)

Would you want a "temporary building" housing a billion dollar investment in an area prone to hurricanes?

Re:Stupid question... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260473)

Would you want a "temporary building" housing a billion dollar investment in an area prone to hurricanes?

I bought a 50-foot by 50-foot tarp to cover my roof while I was doing some work--it cost about $150. Now could you imagine how much it would cost to cover the rocket while it's under construction? And you all know what happens to tarps when the wind picks up. I'd hate to be the team trying to lash it down during a Florida wind storm. Much cheaper to just move it into place on a giant tractor thingy.

Re:Stupid question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261369)

Another republican that thinks he is a rocket scientist.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260367)

Because they build more than one at a time.

Re:Stupid question... (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260371)

... but why don't they build the rocket on the take-off location and remove the building instead? It seems like a smaller effort, no?

Go look at pictures of the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building - no, you find the links). The largest indoor space in the world. So you'd like to immolate it every time you launched a rocket? Sounds even more expensive than the crawler transporter.

Just as a point of argument, there ARE other ways to do this sort of thing. The Russians like to put things together on the ground and then lift the entire mess up. I'm sure there were spirited discussions on the pros and cons of doing this in the 60's but this way certainly has been quite flexible.

Sigh. This is part of my childhood - grew up around the thing. Nice to see that it's still there though.

Re:Stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260699)

Down boy... sniffing glue all night? Little edgy?

Re:Stupid question... (4, Informative)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260889)

Wiki disagrees with you. It's ONE of the largest, it's not THE largest.

It's #6 on the list: Largest usable space

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_buildings_in_the_world [wikipedia.org]

Re:Stupid question... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261133)

I'd like to thank all the Slashdot pedants for clarifying one small point of fact on my post. Where would we be without you guys?

No, really. Thanks. The world is a better place.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261169)

Yea, who needs accurate information for claims that you specially refused to back up.
Maybe if you were not so abrasive people would not go out of their way to look-up your stuff.

Re:Stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261979)

Yeah, that guy's a total fag.

Re:Stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261991)

Maybe if people were not such idiots, they WOULD bother to look shit up.

I'm so tired of the "link or it didn't happen" broken mentality. This usually comes from the dimmist bulb in the room - yet they're sure they are not.

Seriously, when you're talking to people do you say stupid shit like, "link or it didn't happen?"

And when you add pedantic shit to a losely related tidbit which was not the focus of the discussion, it seems to imply you're not listening. Rather, you're too busy pretending to be smart to actually productively participate in a discussion.

Like it or not, its actually people like you who come across as rude and abrasive.

Re:Stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261901)

My, what a hostile little prick you are.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41264103)

Oops. Forgot. AC's have absolutely no sensor of humor, sarcasm (or anything else for that matter).

Sorry.

Re:Stupid question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260893)

The VAB is actually #6 by usable space [wikipedia.org]

Re:Stupid question... (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260941)

Just as a point of argument, there ARE other ways to do this sort of thing. The Russians like to put things together on the ground and then lift the entire mess up. I'm sure there were spirited discussions on the pros and cons of doing this in the 60's but this way certainly has been quite flexible.

The Russians like to move their rockets by rail.
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/04/02/article-1372645-0B724A6200000578-45_634x286.jpg [dailymail.co.uk]
It's a much simpler and faster process than the mega crawler NASA went went.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

Mercano (826132) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260959)

Mostly because they want to reuse as much of the existing infrastructure at KSC as they can, and it was built around the idea of static buildings & launch pads with mobile launch platforms. When they were building a west coast shuttle launching facility in the 80's, they were reusing SLC-6, a Titan III facility built around having a mobile service tower, so they wound up building a mobile assembly building. [aviationintel.com]

Wait, west coast shuttle facilities, you ask? Yup, they were planing on launching Discovery from Vandenberg Air Force Base in October 1986. Unfortunately, Challenger exploded in January 1986, putting a moratorium on shuttle launches, and it was deemed prohibitively expensive to make all of the safety-related upgrades required once they started flying again, and, at that point, the Air Force had already decided they were better off with unmanned expendable launchers.

Re:Stupid question... (3, Informative)

Catmeat (20653) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262641)

... but why don't they build the rocket on the take-off location and remove the building instead? It seems like a smaller effort, no?

This is exactly what's done in some circumstances. During the 80's, there were plans to launch shuttles from Vandernberg AFB in California. The West-Coast launch site was known as SLC-6 [wikipedia.org] and, if it had ever been used, would have worked in exactly this way. The downside is that the launch site is tied up for many months at a time. I believe SLC-6 was intended to handle around one launch per year.

When the plans for Kennedy were laid out in the early 60's, the method of getting to the moon was still being decided. Early on, the leading option was Earth orbit rendezvous, which would have required two Saturn 5 launches per mission, with the rockets launched within hours of each other. Having a central assembly building with a capacity for several Saturn 5s [1] and three separate launch sites (although only two were actually built) was seen as the best way of doing this. Everything there now is a legacy of this, early-60's planning.

However ESA in Kourou and the Russians in Baikonur do the same thing - separating assembly and launch sites. The hassle of having to move rockets about on the ground is more than made up for the fact that your launch rate isn't bottle-necked by the number of launch pads. And remember, the number of launch pads is always going to be limited as they have to be separated by many miles of empty land for safety reasons. Even on the Central Asian steppes, you'd only have space for so many.

[1] I believe it could potentially accommodate four at various stages of assembly but don't quote me, I'm likely misremembering the exact number.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#41263139)

Reason why VAB was built and Pad 39A and 39B three miles away and using the crawler transporter was based on Saturn V rocket and its assembly and launch complex, all had to be ready in less than a decade. If they had to do it all over again with Space Shuttle, it would be done differently. But wait, it was! At least for Vandenberg AFB which was another Shuttle launch facility on west coast for polar orbits, see these pics at http://www.murdoconline.net/archives/3981.html [murdoconline.net] and you can see overall was done very differently. Regarding Florida, they decide to reuse same facilities instead of scrapping and rebuilding from scratch for the Shuttle. VAFB was abandoned in later 1980s. For the Constellation program, they were to reuse the VAB, Pad39, and crawler (after all Constellation and SLS is Apollo on steroids).

For what? (3, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260291)

If NASA thinks they are going to have a heavy-lift rocket, or even a manned space program, ever again, they obviously have not been reading the newspapers. For the next decade at least, they aren't going to do anything beyond a few GPS and communications satellites. And Elon Musk is going to grab most of that business. Joyrides are being handled by two other companies and the Russians are providing the lifts to the ISS, until that too, is deorbited for lack of funds.

Short of a "Pearl Harbor" style incident that forces us back into space in a big way (say, the Chinese land on the moon, or a chunk of falling rock wipes out LA), the government is as committed to NASA as the average Slashdotter is committed to becoming the Pope.

Re:For what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260363)

You insensitive clod! I'm a priest, the kind that doesn't piddle little boys, and I aspire to be Pope one day!

Re:For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260465)

So I guess you're not an average slashdot reader then?

Re:For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41262181)

the kind that doesn't piddle little boys

it also sounds like he isn't an average priest either!

Re:For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41262807)

the kind that doesn't piddle little boys

it also sounds like he isn't an average priest either!

What percentage of Slashdot readers piddle little boys?

Re:For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41264347)

I'd like to be the pope. So I can fix their inane policies.

Re:For what? (1)

Leuf (918654) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260555)

Even if it's another entity besides NASA that builds a heavy lift rocket, they are going to need somewhere to launch it from.

Re:For what? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260869)

Even if it's another entity besides NASA that builds a heavy lift rocket, they are going to need somewhere to launch it from.

NASA are the only entity likely to build a heavy lift rocket in the near future because it makes no financial sense. And even if SpaceX did build one, they'd be unlikely to pay for NASA infrastructure to launch it.

Re:For what? (1)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261923)

Even if it's another entity besides NASA that builds a heavy lift rocket, they are going to need somewhere to launch it from.

NASA are the only entity likely to build a heavy lift rocket in the near future because it makes no financial sense. And even if SpaceX did build one, they'd be unlikely to pay for NASA infrastructure to launch it.

How heavy is "heavy lift"? SpaceX has the Falcon Heavy [spacex.com] on the roadmap. Supposed to lift over double the capacity of the Shuttle. Will launch from the Cape on a Nasa pad. According to their website, only the Saturn V delivered more mass to orbit. According to my recollection a couple of Soviet rockets were bigger too.

It looks like the Alliant/Boeing SLS could do double the work of the Falcon Heavy, if it ever gets built. Projected costs for SLS are even more massive than its payload - at least when compared to SpaceX numbers. They are quoting $138 million to GTO, while current estimates place the cost of a base model SLS at $1.6 billion (not including program development costs or launch costs). So if the SLS is what defines "heavy lift" then I suppose you are right. Only a government would shell out that kind of dough. (a quick look at wikipedia says that NASA estimates total program costs through the first 4 launches at $41 billion - so nearly 10x the cost of launching with SpaceX. - of course you do get that extra 25% more payload for the cost)

Re:For what? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41263089)

How heavy is "heavy lift"? SpaceX has the Falcon Heavy [spacex.com] on the roadmap. Supposed to lift over double the capacity of the Shuttle.

Considering the shuttle launched something like a quarter as much as the Saturn V, launching twice as much isn't really saying a lot.

But it also avoids the biggest problem of the SLS: you spend billions and billions and billions of dollars developing something that flies perhaps a dozen times over the next decade, so every single launch starts with a base cost of a billion dollars or more when you spread the development costs over a tiny number of launches. The Falcon Heavy would be based on the Falcon 9, so most of the development costs are already paid for.

Re:For what? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261211)

GPS is funded by the DoD. NASA does not do comsats. NASA is not the DoD, nor the NRO, nor NOAA. What does NASA do? Probes, ISS, Hubble, etc.

Re:For what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41263765)

GPS is funded by the DoD. NASA does not do comsats. NASA is not the DoD, nor the NRO, nor NOAA. What does NASA do? Probes, ISS, Hubble, etc.

NASA runs launch services for the DOD. Kennedy Space Center are launching a GPS sattelite and another X-37B flight next month - both for the DOD!

Why does it have brakes? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260295)

Can't help but wonder since it moves so slow, but still, how far would it freeroll if you didn't have brakes?

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260343)

Physics.
It has brakes because with that much mass, an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260537)

Gee, i didn't realise physics was at work here...

The more pertinent question here is how quickly does it stop?

Re:Why does it have brakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260729)

I think the real unanswered question is...Does it blend?

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261221)

well i think if it ran over an F-350 the truck would land up very "blended" (each tread is about 50 TONS in just "shoes")

Re:Why does it have brakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261567)

Reading.

Read the fucking question you dumbfuck.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (3, Informative)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260409)

It would have to be on a hell of an incline. The friction between the tracks and the suspension is enormous. I've ridden the thing a couple of times and they really have to gun the throttles to get everything rolling. After that, they throttle down just a bit to maintain a nice even pace.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260929)

It can't be too much of an incline, or the rocket would fall over.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261261)

Heh, "gun the throttle."

All I can think of it 0-1 mph in .....

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261491)

Well, gun in a relative frame. I guess "They have to advance the throttle level faster and to a higher setting..." just doesn't have the same ring.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260505)

24 million pounds means a lot of inertia.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (2)

Squeebee (719115) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260549)

Keep in mind that the crawler isn't just impressive because of the weight it can haul, but also because of the pinpoint accuracy with which is can place it's load. Yes, it could freeroll a little bit, but you won't get a spacecraft positioned within a fraction of an inch that way (think of all the connectors and arms attached to a rocket or shuttle, getting all those couplings right required the rocket or shuttle to be placed very precisely).

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260877)

Not to mention the self-levelling essentially balancing a baseball bat on a bottle cap.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260625)

Don't let the slow speed fool you. With 12 (soon 18) million pounds behind it, it can keep creeping for quite a long time if that energy isn't removed somehow.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261067)

Also when it's not transporting the SatV rocket or shuttle or whatever lorry of the time...that is moving back to the VAB, I guess it can achieve higher speeds "let's see what this baby can do!!" and then they would need brakes.

"Why do cars need brakes? ... so they can go fast"

Re:Why does it have brakes? (3, Funny)

Iniamyen (2440798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260915)

To make it road legal. Damned government regulations.

Re:Why does it have brakes? (1)

uncqual (836337) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262595)

True, the fleet is going to have some real challenges meeting 2025 mileage regulations which, IIRC, are somewhat more economical than 125.7 gallons per mile.

Upgrades (1)

Kingazaz (1361759) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260377)

An inside source told me that they'll be adding a cool air intake and a bigger exhaust in order to attain the extra power they're after.

Re:Upgrades (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260435)

An inside source told me that they'll be adding a cool air intake and a bigger exhaust in order to attain the extra power they're after.

Not to mention switching to Gentoo as the OS.

Re:Upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260751)

Will they be installing a VTEC engine too?

Re:Upgrades (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260875)

Will they be installing a VTEC engine too?

No. Just Type-S stickers!

Re:Upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260817)

I heard they put an 'R Code' sticker on it and that accounted for 2 million additional pounds of capacity right there.

Rail System (2)

Ashenkase (2008188) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260381)

I have always wondered why they don't convert the system to rail. Seems like a much more efficient way to transport a vehicle out to the pad.

Re:Rail System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260447)

That is how the Russians do it:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/images/081010_soyuz4.jpg

I am sure they have reasoned about it back when they designed it.

Re:Rail System (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260463)

because in this weight class train tracks would SNAP LIKE TWIGS if it turned a fraction of a second out of time.

Build huge titanium carbon rails dummy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261113)

your not putting them on avg normal rails GEEE go and weight distribution plays a factor as you could make 20 rails across that are large enough and then just shove the rocket over and you could then do that a bit quicker. Me thinks this is why NASA is basicaly moth balled all that focus on military and UN-intellectual property has drained the actual creativity to other nations and china will land on the moon and prolly india before the usa ever goes by itself with a man back into space.

Re:Build huge titanium carbon rails dummy (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261297)

A problem with tracks is thermal expansion. Florida get HOT, but it isn't at the same temperature all the time. that makes it very difficult to keep them in exactly the right place. They have a tendency to bow and warp. If you have 20 tracks that all need to stay in close alignment, your job is more than 20 times harder than keeping standard gauge rail in place. The crawler drives on a gravel roadbed - much more accommodating to weather.

Re:Rail System (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261247)

Yet the Russians have launched Energia with their system and the N-1 rocket, despite its many issues, had no trouble getting to the pad either.

Re:Rail System (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261257)

N1 rocket rollout [wikimedia.org] .

Re:Rail System (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260487)

What's the cost of maintaining (and inspecting) a rail system in an area prone to hurricanes?

The Crawler travels a (mostly) gravel road.

Re:Rail System (2)

sackbut (1922510) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260565)

What's the cost of maintaining (and inspecting) a rail system in an area prone to hurricanes?

The Crawler travels a (mostly) gravel road.

Another interesting fact... The gravel roadbed utilizes a special Tennessee (?) gravel that is much less prone to sparking than the usual stuff.

Re:Rail System (1)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260567)

Most Russian launchers are delivered just this, including Soyuz, Proton, Energia (including Energia/Buran). They're horizontally integrated (as opposed to the VAB's vertical integration) and placed on a cradle. The cradle is moved, on rails, to the launch facility, where the cradle boom tips the launcher vertical and it's integrated with the launch gantry equipment and (excepting at least Soyuz) the hold-down system. An exception to this is Soyuz operated from the ESA site, which are vertically integrated on the pad using a giant mobile building - once the integration is complete they open the huge doors on that and the building rolls backwards (I think on rails) and moves back far enough for it not to be damaged by the Soyuz' launch.

Re:Rail System (1)

Squeebee (719115) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260581)

It's an incredible amount of weight to haul, and the crawler's treads are wide to distribute that load. If you took all that weight and concentrated it on a couple of rails the rails would likely buckle under the pressure.

Re:Rail System (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260901)

You could always use more than two rails.

Re:Rail System (1)

Squeebee (719115) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261037)

Yeah, but don't forget that crawler needs to exit from multiple bays and head to multiple pads. Imagine the complexity involved in adding switching to that many parallel rails.

Re:Rail System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260635)

you could say it is already on rails, it just brings its own rails - the treads

Re:Rail System (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260683)

Or a Barge. You could have a barge on a canal that you flood or drain. Barges of 10,000 tons are not unreasonable, and canal filling / emptying technology is well established. Its possible the center of mass of the rocket is so high that a barge would need to be too wide to be stable without an unreasonable amount of ballast.

Re:Rail System (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260897)

There were studies on using a barge to move Saturn rockets to and from the pads, but they seemed quite hokey. I believe there are some papers about them on NTRS.

you'd never make the money back (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262889)

Sure, it'd be higher efficiency. But it's only used 10 times a year or something. You'd never recoup the costs of converting.

Good luck... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260385)

I hope they find a use for it someday. Because the SLS (Senate Launch System) will never fly.

Re:Good luck... (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260801)

I hope they find a use for it someday. Because the SLS (Senate Launch System) will never fly.

That's unfortunate, because I was looking forward to launching the Senate into steadily decaying near-Solar orbit.

Re:Good luck... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260831)

I'm told that, sometime after the great war; but before 2277, the crawler transporter is extensively modified to serve as a (slightly) mobile command post for Enclave remnant forces operating in the capitol wasteland area...

Re:Good luck... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#41263341)

The hilarious part about the crawler being converted to an Enclave base is that the Crawler was moved from Florida to DC.

Re:Good luck... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41263817)

"Lack of speed can be overcome. In the worst case by patience."

What do you think the crawler will be busy doing between now and 2277?

Re:Good luck... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260911)

Because the SLS (Senate Launch System) will never fly.

I hope it does launch. I'd like to see the Senate fly into space :)

Re:Good luck... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261283)

Nah it will probably be as useful as the Ares I-X launch tower.

Dear NASA (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260543)

Try steroids, that's what all the Athletes use to life more weight.

But technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260545)

I thought by now we could 3D print rockets in place, or maybe even quantum teleport the rocket to the launch pad?

Re:But technology? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261129)

That is just stupid. If we could teleport the rocket to the launch pad, we could just as easily teleport the VAB out of the way while we launched and never need to move the rocket at all.

Re:But technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41262019)

You got it. I was subtly (perhaps too subtly) mocking the techno-optimists here.

I Now Have a New Dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41260707)

I no longer want to drive the Zamboni.

OJ's got nuthin' on me! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261035)

I no longer want to steal [wikipedia.org] the Zamboni.

FTFY

Amazing gear (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260741)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crawler_transporter [wikipedia.org]
This is one seriously wicked piece of engineering.
I sincerely hope we get to use it again.
Diesel-electric, and rides on a road made of a specific gravel that can support the weight.

More grunt! (2)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#41260779)

Sweet, it's nice knowing even the boffins at NASA understand that sometimes in life you just need more grunt and a bigger hammer...

millions of pounds? (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261055)

55 comments so far and nobody's jumped on the "NASA hasn't used metric units for the crawler. Will roll upside down?" bandwagon yet?
No comments about how many fully-laden African swallows it would take to move a Saturn V either. Jeez, /. is getting boring.

Re:millions of pounds? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261237)

I was just about to. Something along the lines of "Pounds? It's the 21st Century, NASA!" followed by an expression of vague discomfort at seeing "x million pounds" used in earnest.

Droids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261085)

Where do the droids go?

NASA just _thinks_ they can do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41261165)

wait until the EPA, OSHA, and all the other alphabet soup agencies stick their fingers in. New engines? Emission controls! Diesels? Better be low sulfer capable models! Lets make sure those fuel tanks meet all current specs! Got particulate filters and urea injection there? No? Sorry, not going anywhere till you do! Hey, are you sure that no birds have built a nest along that gravel road? Environmental Impact statement (and corresponding studies)! Safety equipment for those working on and around the crawler? Is it up to recent regulatory specs? You know, these (dropping a 600+ page volume). Subject to change of course...

And on and on...

Ford F150 (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | more than 2 years ago | (#41261645)

Makes my Ford F150 Pickup seem inadequate.

six lane highways (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262077)

It's about as wide as a six lane highway, higher than a two story building,

Are six lane highways and buildings the new units of length now? I was still getting used to football fields and city blocks.

Because .... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262203)

... even our astronauts are getting fatter.

Labor Cost Savings (1)

darth_borehd (644166) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262395)

The giant crawler saves money as they can crew it with a bunch of jawas who work for e-waste.

Marion Power Shovel -- gone. (1)

leftover (210560) | more than 2 years ago | (#41262481)

One thing the article could have mentioned is that the US has abandoned its capability to build big machines like this. Marion Power Shovel and its peers, who also built the machines to dig the Panama Canal and other historic feats of engineering, are gone. Empty fields here in Ohio where the plants stood.

Thinking about this in juxtaposition to present-day ideas of 'innovation', such as new versions of stupid games for telephones, makes me feel ill.

Coolest Tonka Toy Ever (1)

some old guy (674482) | more than 2 years ago | (#41263533)

I'd love to see some redneck Monster Truck freak try to beat that sucker in a tractor-pull.

Back as a kid, at least one of the news networks would periodically give progress updates on the movement of Apollo Saturn V-B vehicles out to the launch complex...the actual launches, of course, were breath-taking. The kind of stuff that inspires kids to become engineers.

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