Friday, January 08, 2010

Mobile launcher inches higher at KSC

The mobile launcher NASA is building for the Ares I rocket extended higher today, as workers at Kennedy Space Center added the eighth of 10 segments to the tower despite chilly and rainy weather.

Click here to read a story with more background on the Apollo-style mobile launcher.

The $145 million first phase of the $500 million project, which will complete the launcher's main structure, is expected to wrap up this summer. The tower, which will rise 400 feet above the ground, should be stacked by the end of this month.

Electrical and other systems will be added before the project's scheduled completion in 2014.

Of course, presidential direction expected by next month will determine whether NASA continues to develop the Ares I to make use of the new launcher.

Larry Schultz, the NASA project manager for the mobile launcher, said he thinks the work and investment wouldn't be wasted by a switch to a different rocket, like the proposed Ares V heavy-lift vehicle.

"I would say substantial portions of what we've done so far can be re-used and applied to Ares V," he told Florida Today. "We will design and build whatever the administration and Congress directs us to."

PHOTO: Construction workers hoist the eighth of 10 segments atop the tower of the new Ares I mobile launcher at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Amanda Stratford, Florida Today.

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