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Kennedy Launch Site - Part 2 of 2

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Vertical Processing Facility (VPF)
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.
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Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)
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 (VAB)
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...

More VAB Facts:

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.

It encloses 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   2  | 

VPF - Prepare the Payload ::
Some of Hubble's new parts for Servicing Mission 3B arrivies at the Vertical Processing Facility at Kennedy.
OPF - The Shuttle's Garage ::
A space shuttle (orbiter) is rolled into the Orbiter Processing Facility so it can be prepared for its next mission.
OPF - Backing-up ::
The space shuttle Endeavour is rolled out of the Orbiter Processing Facility to be taken to the VAB (Oct 2001).
VAB - King of the Cape ::
The Vertical Assembly Building (top right) reigns over Kennedy's Launch facility. It is close to twice the height of the Statue of Liberty
VAB - Prepare to Merge ::
Suspeneded high above the ground, a shuttle is being lowered into position for joining to its rocket booster stack.
VAB - Roll Out the Shuttle ::
The Shuttle Atlantis is rolled out vertically from the VAB on a crawler towards the launchpad (Jan 2001).
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| Page Last Updated: March 28, 2012 |
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