Since the Space Shuttle couldn’t very well fly itself to the launch pad, NASA had to figure out how to get $US1.7 billion worth of spacecraft from the Vehicle Assembly Building the the Launch Pad. Their solution: the 2700-ton Crawler-Transporter. Problem solved.
Standing three or four metres high, 40m wide, and 35m long, each vehicle – nicknamed “Hans” and “Franz” – consists of four sets of double tracks, each weighing nearly 60 tons (that’s one Bowhead Whale’s worth). Four 1000kW generators powering the vehicle’s traction motors – themselves powered by two 2750hp diesel engines – make the crawlers move. Another pair of 750kW generators, driven by dual 1065 hp diesel engines, provide power for the lighting, accessories and self-levelling deck.
The Crawler-Transporter gallops along the 5.6km reinforced crawlerway from the VAB to the launch site at a blistering 3.2km/h an hour (and only half that when loaded), consuming 1654 litres of diesel along the way. Since the start of their service in 1965, they’ve travelled a combined 4065km (roughly the distance between Mazatlan and Vancouver).
Monster Machines is all about the most exceptional machines in the world, from massive gadgets of destruction to tiny machines of precision, and everything in between.