Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GRAIL NASA Tweetup Part IV–Vehicle Assembly Building

The best part of the tour was walking around in the ground floor of the vehicle 2011-09-07 GRAIL NASATweetup 120assembly building or VAB. The VAB was built for the original Apollo missions and is a large building by most anybody’s definition. Walking around the building was quite amazing. Seeing all the steel used in forming the building and making a realization the building’s steel calculations were most likely done by hand with a room full of engineers dressed in their white shirts, black tie and black pants. Based on my college education in Civil Engineering I can safely 2011-09-07 GRAIL NASATweetup 064say it must have been a pretty monotonous process. Run the calculations for your section, have someone check the math and then make any corrections.

The hardest part of doing the process must have been the repetitive nature of the calculations. Not only do you have a force applied, but you have to distribute that force throughout the structure in an iterative process. If someone decides to add a large load higher up the hundreds of calculations would have to be redone to make sure the beams, columns and cross members were still adequate.

As with any structure near the entrance is a map with safety information and 2011-09-07 GRAIL NASATweetup 060what functions were previously housed in the bays of the structure. The building has remnants of previous missions of the facility from the2011-09-07 GRAIL NASATweetup 063 jack stands.





View up the outside skin of the building.

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Picture of scaffolding structure to gain access to the higher portions of the rocket.

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Floor panels to provide access to the Saturn V rockets of the Apollo missions.

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Offices carved into the open space above tool and equipment storage.

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Pictures of the space shuttle. I’m guessing they are for visitor’s to the facility since I’m guessing most of the workers who worked in the building got to see real life pictures daily.

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The doors to the facility with translucent surrounding panels to allow light inside.

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Wall where shuttle workers signed. It’s still waiting to get signed by the astronauts still up in space on the International Space Station.

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Lots of lights throughout the structure.

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As an engineer, I took a picture of the bay of cathodic protection modules for the steel. I suspect without these the VAB would have rusted and fallen apart in the Florida humidity long ago.

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Picture looking up. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll be able to check out the VAB at Vandenberg Air Force Base and be able to see how the steel size differs.

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