Monday, December 03, 2007

LC-39 Observation Gantry

We went to Kennedy Space Center today and went on a tour that went to the LC-39 Observation Gantry. It's an observation tower where you can see the shuttle launch pads. This tour is closed on launch day.

This is a picture of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where the space shuttles are lifted vertically to be fitted with the big orange fuel tank, solid rocket boosters, and otherwise readied for launch.

A shuttle engine on the LC-39 Observation Gantry.

A view up the shuttle engine. A launch can be scrubbed up to 3 seconds before lift-off. The shuttle engines fire up 3 seconds before the solid rocket boosters. That's to prevent the shuttle from being launched into space if the engines aren't working properly.

Shuttle Atlantis on the launchpad. You can see the black nose of the shuttle and the orange fuel tank. The wide part of the tower rotates away from the space shuttle for launch.

The platform with the tractors around it is the crawler that takes space shuttles from the tall Vehicle Assembly Building in the background to the launch pad. The crawler travels up to 1 mile per hour with the shuttle vertical and maneuvers the space shuttle into place at the launch pad.

Here is a panorama of the crawler path showing both space shuttle launch pads. I couldn't get both launch pads in one shot, so this is crudely stitched together. Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

This is another photo of the VAB as we left the tour area. It is the third largest building in the world (by volume) and the largest one story building in the world. One of the stars on the American flag on the side of the VAB is 6 feet across. The blue field in the flag is the size of a regulation basketball court. You can see it from miles away.

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