By Antonia Jaramillo
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
And the record title for the heaviest self-powered vehicle goes to … NASA’s Crawler Transporter 2!
The next time it carries the mobile launcher and Artemis Moon rocket to and from the launch pad, the behemoth Crawler Transporter 2 will sport a Guinness World Records certificate officially designating it as “the heaviest self-powered vehicle.” At approximately 6.65 million pounds, the crawler’s weight is equivalent to about 15 Statues of Liberty or 1,000 pickup trucks.
At a March 29 ceremony at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Guinness World Records presented the certificate to teams with the Exploration Ground Systems Program and Kennedy leadership.
“Anyone with an interest in machinery can appreciate the engineering marvel that is the crawler transporter,” Exploration Ground Systems Program Manager Shawn Quinn said. “This crawler captured the attention of the world during the Artemis I mission when it carried the rocket and spacecraft that will send our astronauts to the Moon to the launch pad.”
Since their construction in 1965, a pair of crawler transporters have carried NASA rockets to the Launch Complex 39 area. Larger than a baseball infield and powered by locomotive and large electrical power generator engines, this crawler is now responsible for carrying the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B for the Artemis Moon missions.
Originally designed to carry the Saturn V rockets during the Apollo program, the crawler underwent upgrades to enable it to carry the heavier load of the newer generation Moon rocket. These improvements added more weight, making this crawler heavier than its sibling, Crawler Transporter 1.
“NASA’s crawlers were incredible pieces of machinery when they were designed and built in the 1960s. And to think of the work they’ve accomplished for Apollo and shuttle and now Artemis throughout the last six decades makes them even more incredible,” said John Giles, NASA’s Crawler Element Operations manager. “To have a Guinness Worlds Records title is icing on the cake for an extraordinary piece of equipment.”
Due to the extremely heavy weights the crawler carries, the 4.2-mile trek from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad takes a bit longer than driving the route by car – or even walking it on foot. Traveling at a speed of approximately one mile per hour, the trip by crawler transporter can range anywhere from eight to 12 hours.
After successfully transporting the Artemis I Moon rocket to and from the launch pad, teams now are preparing for Artemis II. This includes replacing the “shoes” on the two large tracks the crawler rolls on, performing corrosion control on the truck’s interior, and carrying the mobile launcher prior to stacking SLS and Orion top.
Under Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, paving the way for a long-term presence at the Moon and serving as a steppingstone on the way to Mars. But before that, the crawler will ensure the rocket and spacecraft arrive at their last stop on Earth before heading to the Moon.