This is how the giant spacecraft transporting NASA’s spacecraft works

Caterpillar transmission. (Image: NASA)

SLSgiant missile Container carrying a spaceship OrionAnd the That will allow humans to return to the Moon, has already been on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for the first stage of the Artemis I mission, which will (hopefully) launch on August 29.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the aforementioned rocket departed on August 16 from the Kennedy Headquarters for the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Space Center to Platform 39B, located at the same facility.

He also did this in a flight of about 10 hours, although the distance was just over 6 kilometers. It’s a noticeably slow ride, But it is understandable given the spacecraft’s size (over 100 meters in height) and all the structures it must carry to keep the SLS upright and the operator able to perform its own duties. work during the tour.

Yes, the so-called space launch system Walking tours of the Kennedy Space Center facilities. This means it is erect and ready to take off. How? Thanks to the car developed by NASA itself: the caterpillar transporter.

Transports SLS tracked transport and more spacecraft

A crawler carrier, or caterpillar transmission, is a A vehicle designed exclusively for transporting rockets from various points of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center facilities.

As its name suggests, it has a caterpillar mechanism very similar to that used in tanks, the purpose of which is to maintain constant movement at all times.

Caterpillar transmission.  (Image: NASA)
Caterpillar transmission. (Image: NASA)

This is the car on which a platform was installed to transport the missile, Follow a specially designed path, Commonly known as rail transportation, from the vehicle assembly plant to the current location of the SLS vehicle; 39B launcher.

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In fact, NASA has been using tracked transport since before 1996, When Saturn IB made its first flight. But the model that currently works, and the many SLS paths that have been taken, is Crawler Carrier II.

The crawler-carrier 2, the largest vehicle in the world, weighs about 2721 tons and requires up to 30 operators to operate, although it is controlled by only one person. more accurate, Brian Rohloff, At 24, she is the youngest and currently the only woman to drive this car, according to Commercial Carrier magazine.

Moving the second carrier crawler was a difficult task, especially since speed and maneuverability were so critical that the spacecraft carrying it would not suffer any damage.

Caterpillar transmission.  (Image: NASA)
Caterpillar transmission. (Image: NASA)

Giant, slow and strong

For example, for an SLS transmission, the maximum speed reached, according to Rohloff, is Just over one kilometer per hour.

To get an idea of ​​how slow it is, people walk 6 km from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B, which will take about 40 minutes. Crawler-Transporter II takes about 10 hours.

Yes, the Caterpillar transmission system has various systems that allow not only better control of the vehicle, but also Safer transportation of the spacecraft you are carrying.

Caterpillar transmission.  (Image: NASA)
Caterpillar transmission. (Image: NASA)

NASA has Different laser systems, one for pointing and one for leveling, They are responsible for maintaining the platform in a horizontal position at all times. This is very important, especially if we take into account that in some sections there is a slight slope.

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Although it is a remarkably slow vehicle, it is extremely powerful. she has Two Alco diesel engines 16 cylinders, Greetings Run up to 16 engines Dedicated to travel four ways. It also includes two Cummins diesel generators of 1500 kW, which are responsible for powering the rest of the crawler-bus II elements.

As a curiosity, the caterpillar transport follows a special truck, like some kind of irrigation system, which Road hydration specialist of gravel to avoid dust caused by the destruction of rocks by giant wheels.

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Lovell Loxley

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