Vehicle Assembly Building
The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is one of the largest
buildings in the world. It was originally built for assembly
of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and was later modified to support
Space Shuttle operations. High Bays 1 and 3 are used for
integration and stacking of the complete Space Shuttle vehicle.
High Bay 2 is used for external tank (ET) checkout and storage
and as a contingency storage area for orbiters. High Bay 4 is
also used for ET checkout and storage, as well as for payload
canister operations and solid rocket boster
(SRB) contingency handling.
The Low Bay area contains Space Shuttle main engine
maintenance and overhaul shops, and serves as a holding area
for SRB forward assemblies and aft skirts.
During Space shuttle build-up operations inside the VAB,
integrated SRB segments
are transfered from nearbay
SRB assembly and checkout facilities,
hoisted onto a
Mobile Launcher Platform in High Bays 1 or 3 and
mated together to form two complete
SRBs. The ET, after arrival by
barge, is inspected and checked out in High Bays 2 or 4 and then
transfered to High Bay's 1 or 3 to be attached to the
SRBs already in place.
The orbiter is then towed over from the
Orbiter Processing Facility to the VAB
transfer aisle, raised to a vertical position, lowered onto the
Mobile Launcher Platform and then
mated to the rest of the stack. When assembly and checkout is
complete, the crawler-transporter
enters the High Bay, picks up the platform and assembled shuttle
vehicle and carries them to the launch pad.
The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres). It is 160 meters (525 ft)
tall, 218 meters (716 ft) long and 158 meters (518 ft) wide. It
encloses 3,664,883 cubic meters (129,428,000 cubic feet) of space.
- Flag & Bicentennial Emblem: Added in 1976, required
6,000 gallons of paint. The flag is 64 x 33.5 meters
(209 x 110 ft) in size. Each strip on the flag is as
big as the tour buses used to transport visitors around
- Steel: 89,421 metric tons (98,590 tons)
- Concrete: 49,696 cubic meters (65,000 cubic yards)
- Piling: 4,225 open-end steel pipe piles, 0.4 meters (16 inchs) in
diameter were driven 49 meters (160 ft) into bedrock.
- Air Conditioning: 9,070 metric tons (10,000 tons), 125 ventilators.
- Lifting Devices: 71 cranes; two 227 metric ton (250 ton) bridge cranes.
- Siding: 100,800 sq meters (1,085,000 sq ft) insulated aluminum panels; 6,503
sq meters (70,000 sq ft) plastic panels.
- Doors: There are 4 High Bay doors. Each opening is 139 meters
(456 ft) high. The north entry to the transfer aisle was widened
12.2 meters (40ft) to permit entry of the Orbiter, and slotted
at the center to accommodate its verticle stabilizer.
- Height: VAB - 160meters (525 ft) <--> Statue of Liberty - 93 meters (305 ft)
- Volume: VAB - 3,665,013 cu meters (129,428,000 cub ft) <-->
Pentagon 2,181,117 cu meters (77,025,000 cu ft).
- VAB equals 3.75 Empire State Buildings
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