On Midnight 10-20-20 NASA’s mobile launcher made it’s 4.2 mile trek from the VAB Vertical Assembly Building to the ramp at launch complex 39B in nine hours roughly moving at a half a mile an hour.

A very detailed cleaning by ground personnel with fire hoses will occur over the next 10 days to remove any damaging exhaust residue on the mobile tower and a training reenactment for the ground team from the T-15 hour in the countdown to T-0 simulating launch procedures while out on the launch pad.

The mobile launcher is the ground structure that will be used to assemble, process and launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft from Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for missions to deep space destinations, such as the Moon, Mars and beyond.

During preparations for launch, the crawler-transporter will pick up and move the mobile launcher into High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building. The launcher will be secured atop support posts and the crawler will move out. The Orion spacecraft will be stacked atop the SLS rocket and processed on the mobile launcher.

The mobile launcher consists of a two-story base that is the platform for the rocket and a tower equipped with a number of connection lines, called umbilicals, and launch accessories that will provide SLS and Orion with power, communications, coolant, fuel, and stabilization prior to launch. The tower also contains a walkway for personnel and equipment entering the crew module during launch preparations.

The launcher will roll out to the pad for launch on top of the crawler-transporter, carrying SLS and Orion. After the crawler-transporter makes its eight-hour trek to the pad just over four miles away, engineers will lower the launcher onto the pad and remove the crawler-transporter. During launch, each umbilical and launch accessory will release from its connection point, allowing the rocket and spacecraft to lift off safely from the launch pad.

Fun Facts

• Total height above ground: 380 feet

• Tower: 40 feet square, about 355 feet tall, 662 steps

• Tower floor levels: every 20 feet for personnel access to vehicle and ground support equipment

• Approximate weight: 10.5 million pounds

Article by NASA & Scott Schilke Photo Credit Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu