drawn to scale
Shuttle payloads are typically prepared in the Vertical
Processing Facility. Parts and equipment arrive here and
are put in a canister that is up-ended so that the payload
can be stowed aboard the shuttle which is also veritcal.
The VPF consists of an environmentally controlled high bay
and airlock and single-story support facilities along the
sides of the high bay. The high bay area has a ceiling height
of 105 feet and a usable floor area of 10,153 square feet.
Equipment enters the airlock through a 71-foot-high, 24-foot-wide
door. A 10-ton monorail crane is located in the airlock.
The shuttles - or orbiters - are housed and prepared for
their launches here. The facility includes three garage-like
hangars (OPF-1,2,3) that the Shuttles enter horizontally.
Diagnostics, repairs, installation, fittings - are completed
here for the upcoming mission. Afterwards, the shuttle is
moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to be mated
to its booster rockets.
After the mission, the shuttle is towed to the Orbiter Processing
Facility once it has landed and brought to Kennedy. The
shuttle's previous mission payloads are removed and the
vehicle is fully inspected, tested, and refurbished for
its next mission. These functions require approximately
two-thirds of the time between missions. The remainder is
devoted to the installation and checkout of the payload
for the next mission.
Vehicle Assembly Building
The Vehicle Assembly Building 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. This is where the shuttle receives its rocket
booster that help it blast-off and achieve orbit.
To prepare for the shuttle, workers hoist solid rocket
booster (SRB) segments onto a Mobile Launcher Platform and
mate them together to form two complete SRBs. The Shuttle's
external tank (ET) arrives by barge, is inspected and checked
out, and attached to the SRBs already in place.
The shuttle is then towed over from the Orbiter Processing
Facility to the VAB, raised to a vertical position, lowered
onto the Mobile Launcher Platform, and mated to the rest
of the stack. When assembly and checkout is complete, the
crawler-transporter picks up the platform and assembled
Shuttle vehicle and carries them to the launch pad. CLICK
HERE FOR MORE ON THE VAB...
The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres).
It is 525
ft (160 meters) high. This is 220 ft (67 meters) taller than
the Statue of Liberty, which stands 305 ft (93 meters) tall.
It is 716
ft long (218 meters) and (518 ft) 158 meters wide. Not counting
the end zones, a football field is 300 ft long.
3,665,013 cu meters (129,428,000 cub ft) of space. The VAB
has the volume of 3.75 Empire State Buildings.
The flag on
the side of the VAB is 209 x 110 ft (64 x 33.5 meters). If
a tour bus could defy gravity, it could easily drive inside
the width of each stripe.
| Part 1