NASA unveils mobile launcher at KSC

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

Workers at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday unveiled a major component for returning to manned spaceflight.

Standing at over 400 feet, the modified Mobile Launcher is designed for the assembly and launch of NASA's Space Launch System.

Equipped with the Orion Spacecraft, the SLS is a heavy-lift rocket designed to carry astronauts into deep space.

"This is designed to go to deep space," said project manager Eric Ernst. "So, it's more along the lines of an Apollo class rocket."

NASA's Mobile Launcher was originally developed to support the Ares Rocket, which is much lighter than the SLS.

After more than two years of planning and construction, the platform and tower was disassembled and rebuilt from the ground up.

"We essentially had a kind of giant Jenga game here," said Ernst. "We took this entire structure from the tower forward apart, without it falling over."

The modified Mobile Launcher project will cost $350 million once it's reached completion.

Workers said their next step is to install all of the equipment used to support the SLS. The platform will then be moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building in January 2017.

The Mobile Launcher is scheduled to go into use at Launch Pad 39B in September 2018.

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