NASA’s Rocket Garage is Huge and So Are Its Tools
Vehicle Assembly Building

On August 2, 1963, the first of 4,225 steel pilings was driven into the ground. The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was taking shape. 53 years later and the massive building is getting ready to hold the next generation of NASA rockets.

Today, the VAB is being reworked to accommodate NASA’s Space Launch System. This picture gives us a view looking up in High Bay 3 inside the VAB.

looking up into high bay 3

The lower platforms are the K-level work platforms. Above those are the J-level platforms. Workers completed the installation of the second half of the J-level platforms last week. It’s the second of 10 levels of work platforms that will ultimately be installed so personnel can have access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration 1.

[ecko_contrast]Did You Know: Five overhead cranes help pick up and place the heaviest pieces of rockets into position. Two of them can hold 325 tons. The cranes and their operators are so precise, they can lower an object onto an egg without cracking it, according to NASA.[/ecko_contrast]

Here’s another image to give you an idea of just how big High Bay 3 is.

High Bay 3 platforms

And one more showing the second half of the J-level work platform.

looking down at high bay 3 platforms

How do you even install something that big? With a big ass wrench.

NASA wrench

That’s Allen List, an iron and rig foreman with S&R Enterprises of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That wrench he’s holding? It’s almost four-feet long and weighs 50 pounds. We don’t get a good look at the size of the bolts he tightens with that behemoth wrench. But here’s another image showing a worker installing one of the platforms.

worker installs platform

The platform the worker is helping install is 112 feet above the floor. Here’s an illustration showing how the SLS will sit inside High Bay 3 with 10 levels of platforms flanking it.

installation of SLS inside high bay 3

Images via NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

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