back to article There and back again: NASA's mobile launcher returns to testing after ducking out for Dorian

NASA's enormous mobile launcher is back at Pad 39B after worried engineers stashed it in the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to ride out Hurricane Dorian. Engineers had been testing the platform on the pad ahead of an eventual mission and verifying everything works except for, you know, actually standing the rocket …

  1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    I mis-read your headline to say that NASA were hiding the crawler itself from the hurricane. At which point I was trying to imagine what kind of storm can lift up and carry away a 2,700 tonne vehicle!

    1. Oneman2Many

      probably more worried about flying cows hitting it

    2. jake Silver badge

      It's not just the hurricane ...

      ... it's the tornadoes that are spawned around hurricanes that are a major problem. A simple wall-stud from a busted up house turns into an armor piercing projectile in a tornado. I've personally seen a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood stuck six feet up, through the trunk of a 2.5 foot diameter palm tree, with about 20% sticking out the other side. Some wag had painted a pirate flag on it. There are pictures of a standard phonograph record embedded in a telephone pole.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

        Yeah, but who in their right mind builds houses out of little more than spit an cardboard - ok, plywood. But still....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

          "who in their right mind builds houses out of little more than spit an cardboard"

          Someone who wants to get houses built quickly and cheaply and sold at a large profit without much caring what happens next.

        2. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

          There's a reason it's called "toothpicks 'n' tarpaper" construction.

          However, there's been enough lawsuits that (land) developers are starting to pay at least lip service to the building codes.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

            That kind of crap mostly went away decades ago. Today, housing needs to be built according to local building code or you don't get a Certificate of Occupancy. This is true in all 50 states and DC.

            Yes, it is true there are still shysters out there, but they are the (very rare) exception rather than the rule.

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

          "It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it." —Maurice Switzer, 1907

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

            It is better to build a house of stone - story of the three little pigs. Not my fault that this is not done by the leftpondians....

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

              To be fair, when a hurricane makes landfall, brick houses are also liable to getting blown to pieces. And then bricks turn into lethal projectiles just as much as wood does.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: It's not just the hurricane ...

                Welsh slate should do a bit of damage.

  2. Joe W Silver badge

    Units?

    340 feet, hom many brontosaurs is that (or linguini)? These weird "units" make my head dizzy. Let's see.... 12 inch to the foot, 3 feet to a yard, 10 yards to a chain? Was it 22 yards to a furlong then - and four (no, wait, eight? Or six-and-a-half?) make a mile?

    1. Gary Heard

      Re: Units?

      You are a bit confused....

      Ok to the 3 feet to a yard, then

      22yards to a chain (also the length of a Cricket pitch as the Ashes series is on)

      10 chains to a Furlong (220 yards)

      8 Furlongs to a mile (1,760 yards)

      Easy :-)

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Units?

        Thanks! I guess I should bookmark your post... scary thing is: I can totally imagine the length of a cricket pitch, but did not know that this was one chain long. And I was more than "a bit" confused....

        (confusion arises because of the chain gang in American football, their "chain" is 10 yards long, or should we say: short - but then the 22 yards is the surveyors' chain).

      2. MJB7 Silver badge

        Re: Units?

        You've forgotten the rod/pole/perch (same unit, dffierent names). 5½ yards, or a quarter of a chain.

        Also the "link" which is one hundredth of a chain, or 7.92 inches.

        But as you say: Easy :-)

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Units?

        It's all really simply. Further explanation on the imperial system of measurements by the excellent Matt Parker can be found over here

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Weighing in at 10.5 million pounds by itself"

    Otherwise known as about 4760 tonnes.

    1. Ochib Silver badge

      Re: "Weighing in at 10.5 million pounds by itself"

      Long Tons or Short Tons?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Weighing in at 10.5 million pounds by itself"

        Tonnes means metric tons - 1000kg.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "Weighing in at 10.5 million pounds by itself"

      5250 US tons

      4687.5 real tons

      4762.7 tonnes

  4. dbayly

    The bigger they are

    How do you hurricane proof a structure like the VAB ?

    1. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: The bigger they are

      Stand Chuck Norris on the roof!

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: The bigger they are

      You make sure the frame is strong enough to withstand the likely wind forces (easy-ish to calculate), make the siding/skin strong enough to withstand those wind load and that all holes and vents can be plugged up to prevent over-pressure inside the building. Then you remove anything in the vicinity that could be turned into a wind blown projectile. After that the steps should be easy: Cross your fingers, pray to whatever deity you prefer and hope for the best.

  5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    3.7 square metres?

    3.7 square metre (40-square-foot) tower

    That photo looks like the tower is a lot bigger than 6ft on a side? Could we be talking about a tower that is 40 feet square?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3.7 square metres?

      <https://www.nasa.gov/content/mobile-launcher> states that the tower is 40 feet square - being 1600 square feet. That's about 12m square or 144 square metres.

      You can see the scale of it in this picture. There are high-vis and hard-hatted people standing next to the cab on the left hand side to give a good idea of its size:

      <https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/ksc-20180531-mobilelauncher_0.jpg>

  6. dnicholas Bronze badge

    Weights and measures

    "Weighing in at 4,760 tonnes (10.5 million pounds)"

    AKA a metric shit-ton

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