ASME-Landmark:Crawler Transporters of Launch Complex 39


The two crawler transporters of Kennedy Space Center's launch complex are the largest ground vehicles ever built. Each 6-million-pound transporter can carry a 12-millon-pound Saturn V rocket and mobile launcher combination several miles to the launch pads. The transporters are so versatile that they could also be used to carry Space Shuttle vehicles, with the only modifications needed being adaptors to fit different vehicles.

In 1961, President Kennedy set a national goal of making a manned landing on the moon before the end of the decade. While other National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) facilities tackled the job of designing and developing the Saturn V launch vehicle and Apollo spacecraft, Kennedy Space Center began the design of the launch complex. The question soon arose of how to transport the mammoth Saturn V rocket the 3.5 miles from the vehicle assembly building to the launch pad. In 1963, construction began on an unprecedentedly large land vehicle. By 1967, both transporters were in service.

Each transporter is equipped with jacking, steering, and automatic load-leveling systems. Traveling at top speeds of 1 or 2 miles per hour, the transporter has sixteen traction motors driven by diesel engines. The motors are mounted on four trucks with two belt treads, each the size of a Greyhound bus. Leveling of the transporter is accomplished with two independent, but identical, hydraulic servo-systems, and control cabs are mounted on each end of the transporter at opposite corners. It takes an eleven-person crew to operate the transporter systems. See ASME website for more information