April 24, 2012

A Truly Large Building

This one is a bit different. This is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The VAB was built in the mid 60s as a place to assemble the Saturn V rockets used for the Apollo program. The building is 526 feet tall, and was for nearly a decade the highest building in Florida. In fact, standing at the top of the VAB you are nearly 200 feet above the highest hill in Florida which lies at just 345 feet above sea level.

The building is so large that even with the massive number of fans and ventilators in the building, a particularly humid day can cause rain clouds to form inside the building. Since this photo does not really have much in the way of  a sense of scale, each of the stripes on that flag are the width of the lane on a road. If you laid the flag out on a football field, with one end on the end line, the flag would reach all the way to the 30 yard line at the other end of the field. If you laid this entire side of the building down, you could cover up six and a half full sized NFL fields including the end zones.

As I said, this was used first for the vertical assembly of Saturn rockets just as its name may suggest. Later, and in fact up until just last year it was used for the assembly of the space shuttle. The orbiters were processed in the smaller facility you can see to the left, aptly named the orbiter processing facility. They were then mated with their external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in the VAB before being driven out to the pad on one of the crawlers.

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