Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 28 June 2019
FL – Starting at midnight Thursday NASA’s
mobile launcher began to roll
out from the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building on its final ‘solo trek’ to Launch
Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center on Jun. 27, 2019 – minus the mighty Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion
spacecraft its designed to transport – to carry out key workout testing and checkouts.
The Mobile Launchers next roll to the pad will be with the 1st integrated SLS rocket and Orion crew capsule in
preparation for the debut launch of the Artemis 1
mission to the Moon slated for NET late
Thursday’s rollout along the same KSC crawlerway used
during the Apollo and Space Shuttle eras actually began a 2-day affair.
The 380-foot-tall (115-meter) ML mounted atop the crawler-transporter 2 (CT-2) took about 10 hours to reach the
perimeter gates of pad 39B where it halted by around 10 a.m. EDT.
Media including Space UpClose were invited by
NASA to observe and photograph the operation starting just before sunrise as
the towering ML passed by the LC-39 observation tower and made a sharp right turn
to head to pad 39B rather than straight ahead to pad 39A which is now leased by
SpaceX for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches.
Enjoy our gallery of Space UpClose imagery ringing
KSC and the launch pad.
Check back as the gallery grows.
Technicians resumed the roll operation on Friday
morning, driving the ML to the top of pad 39B by lunchtime.
Overall the roll took about 16 hours as the
team worked to verify all systems.
A normal rollout from the VAB to the top of
pad 39B will take about 8 hours or so as the massive structure moves at a whopping top
speed of 0.85 MPH
A water spray vehicle regularly doused the crawlerway
rocks to cool them from the intense heat generated by the 12 million pound
Side view of rollout of NASA’s
SLS Mobile Launcher along
crawlerway to pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Jun 27, 2019. Credit: Ken
The Mobile Launcher has been inside the VAB
since last September to ready it for this rollout operation.
“The mobile launcher has gone through a series
of critical tests in the VAB,” said Dan Florez, NASA test director with Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy.
“We’ve conducted umbilical arm swing tests,
environmental control system tests, hydraulic testing, nitrogen and helium
testing and electrical tests to verify commands from the Launch Control Center
are properly communicating with the ground support equipment and umbilicals.”
will be the first mission launching Orion on the SLS rocket from Kennedy’s
Launch Pad 39B. The mission will take Orion thousands of miles past the Moon on
an approximately three-week test flight.
Orion will return to Earth and splashdown in the
Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, where it will be retrieved and
returned to Kennedy.
Here are further ML details from NASA:
With the mobile launcher now at the pad, some of
the final testing that will take place includes water flow testing of the ignition
overpressure and sound suppression systems that will help protect
the SLS, Orion, the mobile launcher and launch pad from the extreme
acoustic and temperature environment of launch. Testing also will evaluate
cryogenic flows for the ultra-cold propellant and additional checkout of electrical
and umbilical systems.
“One important test coming up involves swinging
three umbilical arms on the mobile launcher simultaneously, which is the first
time all three arms will move together, just as they would during launch,” said
Cliff Lanham, NASA’s senior project manager for the mobile launcher at Kennedy.
The three arms being tested are the core stage
intertank umbilical, the core stage forward skirt umbilical and the interim
cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) umbilical. The umbilicals for the intertank
and forward skirt will provide power and air to purge the lines for the SLS
rocket. The umbilical for the ICPS will provide cryogenic propellants – or
super-cooled liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen – in addition to power and purge
air to the ICPS,
which provides the power and propulsion needed to send Orion to the Moon and
“The arms, built offsite, were first sent to the
Launch Equipment Test Facility where each one was tested individually before
installation on the mobile launcher,” said Florez. “Now it’s time for the
integrated test to validate that all three arms can retract at the same time so
that when the countdown clock hits zero, each arm swings away at the right time
for that historic launch moment.”
After final testing at the pad is complete,
which is slated for the end of September, the mobile launcher will roll back to
the VAB for minor testing before SLS and Orion stacking.
“Once the vehicle is stacked on the mobile
launcher, it will roll to the pad one final time for a rehearsal prior to
launch,” said Lanham. “It’s exciting to see it all falling into place.”
Ken will be onsite at the Kennedy Space Center
for live coverage of NASA’s Orion Ascent Abort-2 test launch.
Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Jul 1/2: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
FL, evenings. Learn more about the upcoming/recent NASA
Orion Ascent-2 Abort test Falcon Heavy, NASA 2024 Moon landing
goal, SpaceX Starlink-1, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-17
launch to ISS, SpaceX Demo-1 launch/test failure, SpaceX Beresheet launch, NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches,
Northrop Grumman Antares, SpySats and more
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