Engineering

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building Is Really, Really Big

Rockets are really, really big. To make them, you need an even bigger factory. That's where the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) comes in. This building is among the largest in the world by volume—and that is really, really, really big.

A ground level view at Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), showing the Apollo 14 (Spacecraft 110/Lunar Module 8/Saturn 509) space vehicle leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The Saturn V stack and its mobile launch tower, atop a huge crawler-transporter, were rolled out to Pad A. The Apollo 14 crewmen will be astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., commander; Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot; and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot.

So Massive That Its Doors Break Records

When NASA began the Apollo program in the 1960s, one of the first steps was to build a factory big enough to assemble the enormous rockets they planned to send to space. Construction of the Vehicle Assembly Building broke ground in 1963, and when it was finished in 1965, the structure was one of the largest in the world with 129,428,000 cubic feet (3,665,000 cubic meters) of interior volume—nearly four times that of the Empire State Building. Its doors are 456 feet high, which is plenty of room to fit the Statue of Liberty. In fact, its doors are the largest in the world. Today, the VAB is being renovated to accommodate the launch vehicles of the future.

Crawler-transporters carrying space shuttle at the Vehicle Assembly Building.

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Written by Curiosity Staff June 16, 2016