Full Moon Over Mobile Launch Pad For Space Launch System Under Construction, Near VAB, Kennedy Space Center, October 2015


Sea Oats and beach grass flowed rhythmically on a strong evening breeze and wisps of clouds gathered over the Atlantic shoreline. Now and then a sharp metallic clang joined in with the whispers of the breeze and the buzz of mosquitoes. Kennedy Space Center was empty of humans, except for a small evening crew working in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), a light security detail at the gates....and my guide and I. The air was thick with ocean salt and the scent of a fusion of life decomposing and regenerating in the brackish marshes, salt water estuaries, and hardwood hammocks in and around the space center. My guide and I were on a mission, a quest for the Moon - a photograph of a full Moon over a launch structure, to be exact. The short story is that things didn't go exactly as planned and we put in a lot of miles on foot and wheel in our feverish hunt. Just when we were about to give up, we found ourselves at the Mobile Launcher (ML) next to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) - with the full Moon rising up over its shoulder. 

The current ML at Kennedy Space Center is almost 400 feet tall and over 10 million pounds of steel, cables, tubes, and pipes.  This mobile launcher was originally built for the Constellation program and the Ares I rocket, which was cancelled. The ML has been undergoing upgrades for the upcoming Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket launch, called Exploration Mission-1, currently planned for sometime in 2019.

The ML is designed to support a spacecraft during assembly, testing, and servicing and transport to launch pad. It is picked up by the Crawler Transporter and carried, with space vehicle attached, to a launch site.  The ML has large connection lines, called umbilicals, that supply the spacecraft with things like propellants, environmental control systems, pneumatics and electrical connections prior to launch.

This is another log book entry in an ongoing series to accompany the photographic folio, The Sky Calls To Us - Photographs of The John F. Kennedy Space Center, September - October 2015 by Memphis Barbree.

Memphis Barbree