The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was originally built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and was later modified to support Space Shuttle operations. High Bays 1 and 3 are used for integration and stacking of the complete Space Shuttle vehicle. High Bay 2 is used for external tank (ET) checkout and storage and as a contingency storage area for orbiters. High Bay 4 is also used for ET checkout and storage, as well as for payload canister operations and solid rocket boster (SRB) contingency handling.
The Low Bay area contains Space Shuttle main engine maintenance and overhaul shops, and serves as a holding area for SRB forward assemblies and aft skirts.
During Space shuttle build-up operations inside the VAB, integrated SRB segments are transfered from nearbay SRB assembly and checkout facilities, hoisted onto a Mobile Launcher Platform in High Bays 1 or 3 and mated together to form two complete SRBs. The ET, after arrival by barge, is inspected and checked out in High Bays 2 or 4 and then transfered to High Bay’s 1 or 3 to be attached to the SRBs already in place. The orbiter is then towed over from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the VAB transfer aisle, raised to a vertical position, lowered onto the Mobile Launcher Platform and then mated to the rest of the stack. When assembly and checkout is complete, the crawler-transporter enters the High Bay, picks up the platform and assembled shuttle vehicle and carries them to the launch pad.
The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres). It is 160 meters (525 ft 10 in) tall, 218 meters (716 ft 6 in) long and 158 meters (518 ft) wide. It encloses 3,664,883 cubic meters (129,428,000 cubic feet) of space. The space is divided into a Low Bay and a High Bay. The Low Bay is 64 meters (210ft) high, 83.5 meters (274 ft) long and 134.7 meters (442ft) wide. The High Bay is 160 meters (525 ft 10 in) tall, 134.7 meters (442ft) long and 158 meters (518 ft) wide).
- Flag & Bicentennial Emblem: Added in 1976. The flag is 64 x 33.5 meters (209 x 110 ft) in size. Each stripe on the flag is 9ft wide (as big as the tour buses used to transport visitors around KSC) and the stars on the flag are 6ft across. The Bicentennial Emblem was replaced by the NASA logo (affectionately known as the “meatball” in 1998. The logo on the VAB takes up 12,300 square feet.
- Steel: 89,421 metric tons (98,590 tons)
- Concrete: 49,696 cubic meters (65,000 cubic yards)
- Piling: 4,225 open-end steel pipe piles, 0.4 meters (16 inchs) in diameter were driven 49 meters (160 ft) into bedrock.
- Air Conditioning: 9,070 metric tons (10,000 tons), 125 ventilators.
- Lifting Devices: 71 cranes; two 227 metric ton (250 ton) bridge cranes.
- Siding: 100,800 sq meters (1,085,000 sq ft) insulated aluminum panels; 6,503 sq meters (70,000 sq ft) plastic panels.
- Doors: There are 4 High Bay doors. Each opening is 139 meters (456 ft) high. The north entry to the transfer aisle was widened 12.2 meters (40ft) to permit entry of the Orbiter, and slotted at the center to accommodate its vertical stabilizer.
- Height: VAB – 160meters (525 ft) Statue of Liberty – 93 meters (305 ft)
- Volume: VAB – 3,665,013 cu meters (129,428,000 cub ft) Pentagon 2,181,117 cu meters (77,025,000 cu ft).
- VAB equals 3.75 Empire State Buildings
Detailed map of the VAB Area (internal users only).
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