NASA Infrastructure Conversion for the SLS Program
2012 – 2017
North Construction Yard, KSC
NASA leadership decided that the Mobile Launcher developed for the Constellation program was to be modified to support the SLS Launch Vehicle. This was a challenge. It was thrilling and at times a bit frustrating, but again, I was fortunate to have a solid team of professionals engaged in the effort with me. The team (inclusive of NASA client, NASA engineers as well as RS&H professionals) brought their best every day.
My primary effort concerned the ML base structure. This is the bottom 25’ if the launcher and it is comprised of deep girders and tall trusses. The exhaust hole consumed a large amount of my focus. I developed the analysis and documentation needed for the expansion from 22’ square opening for the Ares I vehicle to a rectangular opening roughly 4 times larger for the SLS vehicle. The new shape created challenges for displacement control, but the Constellation ML was built robustly. In time, what was inherent in the structure was enhanced to gain the control needed.
Red Planet Plans
For a more comprehensive overview of the civil engineering work supporting NASA’s Red Planet Plans, see the link below. The article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of ASCE’s Civil Engineering magazine.
As NASA outlines its plans for sending astronauts to Mars over the coming decades, civil engineers—both within the space agency itself and as outside consultants—are providing critical support. Their contributions range from adapting existing launchpad systems to accommodate massive new Mars-bound rockets to designing the facilities that will test the forces those rockets will experience and determining the safest ways to land on the Red Planet. Civil engineers are even helping to design a possible habitat for living in an alien world.