Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015 - 09:52 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA Upgrade von historischen Raupentransporter für neue Raketen


NASA's historic crawler-transporter, now upgraded to transport the next generation of commercial rockets, undergoes testing Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at the Kennedy Space Center. (PHOTO/Greg Pallone, Staff)


Before a rocket or space shuttle could launch from the Kennedy Space Center, it had to be moved there, and for the last 50 years, NASA's crawler-transporters have done the job — steadily, but slowly.
Now, the massive crawlers have been upgraded and tested to continue their legacy.
On the Space Coast on Monday, the sound of river rocks being mashed down by eight large tracks, weighing more than 6 million pounds, could be heard as the crawlers made their latest slow journey. The rocks were put in place to reduce sparks as the giant moves down the road.
NASA's massive crawler-transporter is as historic as the space program, itself. First used in 1965, it hauled the large Saturn V rockets in the '60s and '70s, followed by the space shuttles for 135 missions from 1981–2011.
"The first time the crawler powered on its own was January 23, 1965, so that's where we get that 50th anniversary," said Mary Hanna, NASA's crawler-transporter project manager.
"Where would we be without it?" pondered deputy project manager John Giles. "It really is the workhorse of NASA."
The crawler's upgrades include more powerful locomotive engines, capable of carrying NASA's new heavy-lift rocket. Also new are computers and equipment to keep the platform stable as it carries rockets to the pad.
But there's one constant of the crawler that hasn't changed: The speed. The huge transporter still only creeps along at a maximum of 2–3 mph.
At that speed, the trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad takes about 5 hours.
Of late, the huge machines have been a talking point of guest tours of the Kennedy Space Center, situated right by the main road leading to the launch pads.
During part of the upgrade, something very special and nostalgic was found. Inside, crews found a beam with signatures of the some of the crews who worked to build the crawler, and an ironic drawing of a futuristic car that appears to be quite faster than the slow-moving transporter.
The current team members made a plaque of their own.
Engineers say there are just a few more tests to go before a rocket stands atop the crawler.
The two crawler-transporters have traveled more than 3,400 miles to and from the launch pads at KSC, and with future launches on the horizon, many more will be logged.
NASA engineers test upgrades Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, on its historic crawler-transporter, fitted to transport the next generation of commercial rockets. (PHOTO/Greg Pallone, Staff)
Inside NASA's historic crawler, engineers found a drawing, dated 1966, of a futuristic and fast-looking car — ironic, considering the transporter's extremely slow top speed. (PHOTO/Greg Pallone, Staff)
NASA's team of engineers who worked on modifying the historic crawler signed a special plaque inside the giant transporter. (PHOTO/Greg Pallone, Staff)
NASA's team of engineers who worked on modifying the historic crawler signed a special plaque inside the giant transporter. (PHOTO/Greg Pallone, Staff)
Quelle: NEWS13

Tags: Raumfahrt