Vehicle Assembly Building

The Vehicle Assembly Building, German about " building for assembling ( space ) vehicles " is one of the largest buildings ever. The acronym originally stood for VAB Vertical Assembly Building because the Saturn rockets were assembled vertically. Later, it was the building in which the Space Shuttle was with the external tank and solid rocket boosters connected and prepared for launch. It is the emblem of the Kennedy Space Center, has a height of 160.3 meters, is 218.2 feet long and 157.9 feet wide. With a capacity of 3,664,883 cubic meters of the VAB is one of the largest hangars of the earth and, with 139 meters the highest goals in the world.

The VAB was designed for the Apollo program as "Vertical Assembly Building " in order to put together the approximately 111 -meter-high Saturn V rocket upright can. When completed in 1965 it was at that time the largest building in the world and the heart of the launch complex 39

Because of the enormous size of the Saturn V NASA decided to assemble them vertically, to then subsequently not to have to raise. Therefore, the assembly building had to be designed so that the entire rocket was mounted vertically, including the launch pad. They also had to be sufficiently protected from wind and rain, as low wind speeds have already been hindering the production work, and had to be offered sufficient protection against hurricanes. That is why you ultimately decided on a closed building. The VAB can withstand wind speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour.

Contrary to initial drafts, which among other things, to build the manufacturing cells for the Saturn V side by side, the VAB was created cubical with four so-called High Bays. Each department has its own gate - two go west, and two towards the coast, to the east. This High Bay Area is built on an area of ​​157.9 meters wide and 134.7 meters in length. Below the roof drive two bridge cranes, each of which has two cells operate and can lift loads up to 227 tonnes each to a height of 140.8 meters. Overall, the VAB has 71 cranes of different capacities. In every corner of High Bay has an elevator, which the technician can reach the various working platforms. The VAB had space for the assembly of three Saturn V rocket, a cell was kept free for other tasks.

After the end of the lunar flights VAB received with " Vehicle Assembly Building " a slightly different name and has been modified for use for the shuttle program. For the maximum dimensions of the shuttle, the parameters of the halls, especially the width of their goals, targets were. By the end of the space shuttle program, the two western cells (High Bays 2 and 4) were used for the assembly of the solid rocket boosters and the final testing of the External Tank. In the eastern Bays 1 and 3, two orbiters were simultaneously connected to the tank and boosters and start on a MLP platform ( Mobile Launcher Platform) for the addition to the ramp rolls are prepared.

Thus, the 41 -meter-wide MLPs fit through the four VAB doors, this the shape of an upside down Ts had the 46.3 meter wide lower gate consists of four horizontally extending single doors and has a height of 34.7 meters. The upper door opening is 23.2 meters wide and 104.2 meters high, which is closed by seven individually controllable vertical panels, each 80 inches deep. Overall, the gates are 139 feet high, made ​​of a ribbed aluminum coated steel and have a total weight of 888 t. With a Saturn V rocket, together with platform were up nor 1.80 meters square. The Space Shuttle is only half as high, with the solid rocket but wider, so that is only 30 inches of space on the sides. The opening of the horizontal gates takes about 10 minutes, and the opening of the vertical ports additional 35 minutes. Designed they were designed for an operating time of up to 20 years and 5,000 uses, but work after 40 years still without major repairs. Began in 2003 with a 6 years lasting maintenance.

The southern cultivation of the VAB is called Low Bay Area, is 83.5 meters long and 134.7 meters wide. In the middle is the 64 meter high and 67 meter wide central building, which is flanked by two low-rise buildings. Apollo low to time the bay area was divided into eight cells in which the second and third stage of the Saturn V were prepared. Where the main engines of the shuttle were later stored and maintained.

Due to the height of the building clouds could form under the ceiling, which led to precipitation in the early days. To prevent this, powerful fans 125 are installed in the roof. In addition, a 9,070 -ton air conditioner is installed to the control of humidity and temperature, all of the air which circulates per hour of high- bay area once.

The celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Independence of the United States in July 1976, the south wall of the left " cube " was fitted with an oversized U.S. flag. In collaboration with the Office of Heraldry ( Institute of Heraldry ) in the Ministry of Defence was 63.7 meters high and 33.5 meters wide, the largest representation of a flag of the United States. Each of the red and white stripes is 2.6 meters wide and each star has a diameter of 1.8 meters. The right side has been decorated with the star-shaped, 33.5 meters wide " Bicentennial Emblem". This was replaced on the 40th anniversary of the U.S. space agency in October 1998 by the blue NASA logo, which is 40.2 meters wide and 33.5 meters high.


The VAB consists of a steel skeleton that is dressed up to 100,800 square meters with 1.8 × 4.2 meter aluminum plates. A small portion ( 6,503 square meters, which is six percent ) of the outer skin was fitted with translucent plastic panels. That means it does not sink in the sandy soil, 1964 4.225 steel tubes were driven with a diameter of 40 centimeters and a wall thickness of 1 cm up to 49 meters deep into the earth from January to December, which carry the entire VAB. Subsequently, the tubes were filled with sand and provided with a concrete lid.

Exploratory drilling had revealed that the soil is to a depth of around 35 meters from the sand. It is followed by a one -meter thick layer of limestone and then, to a depth of about 50 meters, rocky rock.

The design team of Roberts & Schaefer to a native of Germany architect Anton Tedesco, who had already designed the launch complex 36, prepared in 2500 draft drawings of the VAB. The first leveling work beach soil began in November 1962. For the construction of 89 421 tons of steel and 49,696 cubic meters of concrete were used. Topping-out ceremony was celebrated in June 1965.