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Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

(OP)
While visiting the NASA complex in Cape Canaveral, the pathway used to transport missiles and space shuttle is over a gravel road obviously with a very firm base. While looking at some of the Russian launches in the NASA visitor complex, I noticed that railroad tracks are used to transport their missiles. What is the main reason for not using railroad track in Cape Canaveral? I suspect that I may have the answer but I would like to hear the opinions from other people.

RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

Perhaps the same supposed reason NASA spent all that money to develop a pen that works in low (~0) gravity while Russia issues their cosmonauts #2 pencils?

That or perhaps the crawler manufacture was in the district of an influential senator/congressman or some such.

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RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

I think you are mixing apples and oranges. The transporter is used to carry the launch vehicle from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), otherwise, they would have to assemble the launch vehicle at the launch pad, and watch the exhaust wipe out the support structure. The transporter allows for the possibility of a launch failure that won't destroy the equivalent of a VAB.

Moreover, the transporter was designed to handle things like the Saturn V, which is 33 ft wide, which is way more than a conventional railroad car width.

TTFN
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RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

You could carry something big on a square bridge sort of thing riding on four flatcars rolling on two pairs of rails. You'd need some specialized stuff to set and maintain the macro-gauge between the pairs of rails, or some sliding transverse beams in the bridge. For a Saturn, you might need heavy duty flatcars with more than two trucks each.

The crawler is a little more flexible WRT to changing destinations without a whole lot of rail work, but I think the primary technical advantage of the crawler is that it exerts a _lot_ less ground pressure than railroad ties do on the ground, so the ground deflects less, so there's less danger of tipping a rocket stack and thereby losing it.

Plus, yeah, by the time NASA gets through specifying a square bridge, making it carry its own rail and ties, in the form of crawler tracks, probably is not much more expensive than using 'fixed' rails, and concentrates all the cost up front, instead of having to pay for rail maintenance and changes out of future operating budgets.

Plus, yeah, some senator brought a big lump of money home....


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crawler_Transporter for an excellent summary

There's a 5% grade on part of the route, a not insuperable challenge for Thomas, but Gordon would struggle.

They cost 14 million each, bit of a bargain I reckon given their longevity.

If the wiki is correct perhaps it all comes down to sparks.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

(OP)
I have to admit the Russian film presentation may have been a little old, may be dating back to the 70's, so may be things are a little different now.

RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

(OP)
By the way, I saw the launch of the Delta IV rocket around 9:30 PM that same week and I was amazed how quick it reached its orbit.

RE: Transporting missiles from assembly building to launch site

Greg, I actually read your post in the voice of Mr. Ringo Starr. Brings back memories of me kiddos when they were still young.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

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