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Brief Facts: NASA's Historic Crawler Vans and the Crawlerway at the Kennedy Space Center.
NASA, Florida today

A famous 6.6-million-pound metal monster carved by Kennedy Space Center on Thursday at less than 1 mph, the weeks of testing launch before the possible debut of the NASA Space Launch System rocket.

Topped with an additional 11 million pounds in the form of the rocket's purposeful mobile launcher One of the two legendary crawler transporters picked up the 380-foot tower near the Vehicle Assembly Building and began the 4.4-mile path to Pad 39B on which SLS launches will take place until 2020. Crawler Transporter 2 is expected to reach the pad by Friday afternoon after his 0.7 mph trek across the Alabama River's Rock-Lined Crawlerway.

The journey to 39B and then back is essentially a test drive for the crawler and mobile launchers. According to KSC, systems ranging from power supply lines, environmental controls, pneumatic, communications and electrical connections to rocket and Orion spacecraft are being tested during the move. Fitchecks are also performed on the pad.

"The Mobile Launcher is being postponed to launch the next major program phase for the verification and validation of all systems when connected to the Exploration Ground Systems pad and VAB systems." Cliff Lanham, Senior Project Manager for the mobile launcher, said in a KSC release

After several days, the more than 50-year-old – but newly-upgraded – crawler will return its tracks to the VAB, but this time they're moving the mobile launcher inside to High Bay 3. There teams will do more tests and fit checks, mainly with the 10 platforms installed to service the SLS rocket.

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Before the move on Thursday and the subsequent placement in the plateau after September 8, the mobile launcher was north of the VAB, as the teams crawler and prepared hardware. The arm of the crew, which will allow the astronauts to get to the Orion spaceship on the rocket, was installed in February.

The SLS program was designed to transport the missiles and towers together on one platform. From afar, the only structures you can see on Pad 39B are the 600-foot blitz towers and a single water tower. Other pads, such as SpaceX's 39A or Cape Canaveral Airforce Stations Launch Complex 41, contain static umbilical and access towers that can not be moved.

However, on the launch manifest, SpaceX teams are aiming to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 40 with a commercial communications satellite for Telesat based in Canada no earlier than September 8. This mission is expected after 11.30. and will include a drone ship landing.

Contact Emre Kelly at [email protected] or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter Facebook and Instagram @EmreKelly.

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