In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a national goalo making a manned landing on the Moon beore the endo the decade. Te National Aeronautics and Space Ad-ministration was assigned the responsibility o accomplish-ing this awesome eat. At the time, neither the huge andextremely sophisticated ight hardware nor the supportinglaunch acilities existed. While other NASA acilities tackled the job o design-ing and developing the Saturn V launch vehicle and the Apollo spacecrat or transporting three men to the Moon,Kennedy Space Center began the design o the launchcomplex.Heading the team at KSC was Dr. Kurt H. Debus,Center director and rocketry pioneer with launch experi-ence dating rom the 1930s.Because o the size and complications o handlingthe huge Saturn V rocket and the adverse environmentalactors o wind, rain, highly corrosive salt air, electricalstorms and hurricanes that exist at KSC, Dr. Debus’steam departed rom the conventional methods o assembly and checkout o the launch vehicles at the launch pad.He decided that the Saturn V would be assembled andchecked out in a Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) andthen transported to the launch pad on a mobile launch padand tower.Conveyance o the mobile launcher and Saturn V tothe pad posed no small problem in the 1960s. Te rocketand launcher would weigh 12 million pounds, and the dis-tance would be 3.5 miles to Pad A and more than 4 milesto Pad B. In addition, a portable service tower would berequired to be transported to the launch pads to servicethe Saturn V.Tree concepts o transporting the vehicle and launch-er were proposed: a barge and canal system, a rail system,and a land transporter. Te task o selecting one o thethree systems and then transorming a concept into reality ell to D.D. Buchanan, chie o the launcher systems andumbilical tower design section. Ater a year o study, the cross-land tracked vehicle, orcrawler transporter, was determined in 1962 to be the mosteasible conveyance.Early concepts showed the transporter integral withthe mobile launcher, but exposure to launch damage andpossible long repair periods inuenced the selection o atransporter that would be completely sel-powered andseparate rom the structures.Te transporter would be the largest land vehicle everconstructed, would weigh six million pounds, and wouldbe capable o transporting the mobile launcher with an as-sembled Saturn V or the mobile service structure.In July 1962, NASA approved the crawler transporterconcept, and in March 1963, a contract was awarded toMarion Power and Shovel Co. in Marion, Ohio, or theconstruction o two transporters.
A credit to the individuals who designed the KSCcrawler transporters is the act they did not embark onexotic schemes that might have taken years to develop and would have cost many times more. Instead, they usedexisting and proven concepts that were modifed and inge-niously applied to the Apollo program requirements.Construction o the transporters as separate and inde-pendent o the mobile launch platorm structures provedboth prudent and visionary in light o uture requirementso the transporters. Although modifcations were necessary to support space shuttle operations, the transporters havetruly become the workhorses o the Complex 39 area. Tey continue to unction well in the 21st century using thebasic design initiated in 1962.
Crawler Transporter Tread Belt Shoes
Each Crawler ransporter (C) travels on eighttracked tread belts, each containing 57 tread belt “shoes.”Each shoe is 7.5 eet long, 1.5 eet wide and weighs approx-imately 2,100 pounds. Over 1,000 shoes (456 per C plusspares) were provided by Marion Power Shovel Co. whenthe Cs were initially built in 1965.In the early 1980s, this original shoe quantity wassupplemented with 228 new shoes per crawler rom Bay City, Mich., and Kobe, Japan, oundries. Tese additionalshoes permitted the implementation o a shoe reurbish-ment program in the late 1980s, as each C approached
Carrying the Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle and mobilelauncher, the crawler transporter inches its way to thehardstand on Launch Complex 39A, where it will position the12.5-million-pound load on support pedestals.
KSC Transporters 2 NASA Facts