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.


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