Space

NASA completes critical design review for Kennedy Space Flight Center overhaul

NASA completes critical design...
Artists impression of NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft ready for liftoff at Launch Pad 39B
Artists impression of NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft ready for liftoff at Launch Pad 39B
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Artists impression of NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft ready for liftoff at Launch Pad 39B
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Artists impression of NASA's Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft ready for liftoff at Launch Pad 39B
Crawler-transporter 2 pictured with the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
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Crawler-transporter 2 pictured with the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

NASA has completed itscritical design review for the Ground Systems Development andOperations Program (GSDO). The proposed changes to the groundservices at the Kennedy Space Flight Center, Florida, would preparethe site to host NASA's next-generation launch vehicle, which is setto lift off from the site some time in 2018.

For obvious reasons, thedevelopment of cutting-edge rockets and spacecraft garners the vastmajority of media attention in the aerospace sector, leaving the significant investments and design savvy that goes into reforming thearchitecture and practices of the ground-based element of launch systems relatively overlooked.

This is an interestingquirk, as without an upgrade to these vital facilities, mankind'smission to Mars may as well be a doodle on a napkin. NASA is in theprocess of designing and fabricating a vast rocket, known as theSpace Launch System, which upon completion will represent the mostpowerful rocket ever created.

Launching this behemothwould not have been possible under the current launch architecture, so to prepare for the onset of an intensive campaign of launches thatwill eventually take mankind to Mars, NASA has initiated an overhaulof its facilities at the Kennedy Space Flight Center.

Crawler-transporter 2 pictured with the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Crawler-transporter 2 pictured with the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

The recently completedcritical design review represents a vital step in the redesignprocess, taking the form of an in-depth examination of the proposedalterations to the exiting launch architecture. One of the keyelements of the review included an assessment of the future High Bay3 area of the existing Vehicle Assembly Building, in which the SLSwould be assembled and tested.

Also reviewed were theplans to develop a new mobile launcher, which would be responsiblefor transferring the SLS to its launch pad atop an enormouscrawler-transporter, which is itself an upgrade to aplatform that has been in service since 1965.

"The completion ofthis review represents a critical milestone for the GSDO team thatclearly demonstrates we are on track with the launch site upgradesrequired to support SLS and Orion test, checkout and launch in 2018,"states GSDO program manager Mike Bolger.

Some alterations to theground systems architecture are already taking place. The re-brickingof the flame trench at Pad 39B is currently underway. Thisreinforcement will allow the launch site to better cope with thepunishing force created by the RS-25 engines located atthe base of the SLS rocket. Work has also began on modifying NASA'smobile launch platform, including structural reinforcement, and anenlargement of the exhaust hole at the platform's base.

The next step in thecritical design review process will see the report placed beforesenior agency officials and a further independent review. Once thesesteps are complete, the grounds systems can move in to thefabrication and instillation phase.

Source: NASA

2 comments
habakak
I am willing to put money on the table that we won't put a man on Mars for 25 to 50 more years. It's such a ridiculous notion. There is no point in doing it at this stage. Even IF the planet was dying (which it is far from), we do not have the technology or can afford to send a few humans to Mars and hope they can colonize it. It's not like sailing across the Atlantic to the new world. It is something a million times harder and costlier.
People like to bring up that we put a man on the moon when everybody said we can't. Well, think about all the things we said we could do and never did. There are millions more examples of things like that. Space hotels, vacations on the moon, autonomous cars predicted to be real in the 60's (I know this one will soon arrive, 5 to 10 years tops), flying cars, undersea vacations, rocket belts, 1 mile high buildings, electricity too cheap to meter, etc. For every prediction that came true, there are a thousand that didn't.
mystixa
Well get there before fifty years.. The only question is whether its a commercial or government operation.
As far as space hotels.. we have one. Its called the ISS. Its not a Hilton like in the movies. But if you have the bucks you can go on vacation. Its been done.
As far as what has and has not been done. Most of the have nots werent a factor of not able, or even not able to afford to. Its been a factor of not wanting to. ..and right now people in general are bored, and looking for something interesting to be challenged with. Mars has a bit of that cache, all it takes is a charismatic leader that wants to get it done, and we will.
We spend massively on all sorts of things we don't need. We spend massively on supporting an insurance infrastructure, that supports a medical system which has set its own prices, for which we get the honor of paying $50 hospital aspirins. We spend billions on the military, billions on overseas aid. Billions on so many different projects that few even care about, only some benefit from, and even fewer are inspired by.
At least the space program has a proven history of spreading the tech around to other industries and improving the world we live in. Its been a necessary part of justifying their survival in recent decades, but they actually have done it.