Hardware Rollout Gathers Vibration Data at Kennedy Space Center
An unusual sight greeted Kennedy Space Center employees on the morning of Nov. 17. The Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP), carrying only a set of twin solid rocket boosters (SRBs) instead of a full Space Shuttle assembly, rolled slowly out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in the direction of the Shuttle launch pads. The event was the first in a series of vibration tests
that will gather data on the MLP and its massive crawler transporter during rollout.
The Mobile Launcher Platform carries a set of solid rocket boosters down the KSC crawlerway during a vibration test.
During these tests, the crawler will move at varying speeds of up to one mile per hour as it rolls part-way down the crawlerway before returning to the VAB. Special vibration measuring equipment was installed on several parts of the MLP and crawler transporter to collect the data.
Managers hope to gather vibration data in order to develop future maintenance plans not only for the crawler and MLP, but also for Shuttle hardware. In the coming months, similar tests will occur without the SRBs, enabling data collection from a variety of hardware arrangements.
KSC's crawler transporters can reach a top speed of two miles an hour without flight hardware. First built to carry the giant Saturn launch vehicles of the Apollo program to the launch pad, the two crawlers and three MLPs were later modified to carry the Space Shuttle. This hardworking hardware has traveled about the same distance as a one-way trip from KSC to Los Angeles, Calif.
The ongoing vibration tests exemplify KSC's continued Return to Flight effort. STS-114, the next Shuttle mission, may launch as early as Sept. 2004.
For more information on Return to Flight, visit:
+ Return to Flight Web page
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center