The huge Mobile Launcher (ML) that will be used to launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is leaning. However, NASA insists it is structurally sound and does not require modifications to counter what is portrayed as “some deflection”. The ML is undergoing a conversion process, realigning it for a role with SLS after initially being constructed for the Ares I rocket.
The ML began construction for the Ares I rocket almost ten years ago, marked by trestles and girders arriving at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) by barge in February 2009, beginning the opening phase of work to create a base platform – one which was designed to be lighter than the Mobile Launch Platforms (MLPs) that previously hosted the Space Shuttle stack.
This base – which can be picked up by NASA’s modified Crawler Transporters – is the platform for a fixed tower that hosts an array of umbilical connections and access for engineers and astronauts.
As with all large projects, design changes were added during the initial construction phase, including the winning concept from the Emergency Egress System (EES), a roller coaster car system that would race astronauts – and/or pad crews – away from a major incident ...