World's Mega Machine
# World's Largest Crawler Transporter
The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. The crawler-transporters carry vehicles on the Mobile Launcher Platform, and after each launch return to the pad to take the platform back to the VAB. The two crawler-transporters were designed and built by Marion Power Shovel using components designed and built by Rockwell International at a cost of US$14 million each. Upon its construction, the crawler-transporter became the largest self-powered land vehicle in the world.
The crawlers run on 16 traction motors, powered by four 1,341 bhp (1,000 kW) generators driven by two 2,750 bhp (2,050 kW) V16 Alco diesel engines. That sounds like the crawlers should go like a stabbed rat, but in fact, they take six hours to go from the Vehicle Assembly Building to pad at a maximum speed of one mile per hour (1.6 kph) loaded or two miles per hour (3.2 kph) unloaded. Those six hours are always nerve wracking for the NASA technicians because during that time the giant, very delicate rockets are exposed to rain, wind and even lightning. They may be powerful, but they aren’t cheap to run. Not that you’d expect them to be at a price tag of US$14 million each in 1965. According to NASA statistics, they gulp down diesel fuel at a rate of 125.7 gallons per mile (295.6 liters per kilometer) – that’s 42 feet per gallon (3.38 meters per liter).
- NASA Crawler is 131 feet long, 114 feet wide, and over 20 feet tall.
- Maximum speed of one mile per hour (1.6 kph) loaded or two miles per hour (3.2 kph) unloaded.
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