Jacobs Supports NASA in Hitting Major Milestone at Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s modified mobile launcher (ML), sitting atop a refurbished Crawler Transporter (CT-2). (Credit: NASA)

Mobile launcher reaches launch pad,
paving the way for future deep space exploration

DALLAS, Sept. 25, 2018 (Jacobs Engineering PR) — Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE :JEC ), and NASA, recently achieved a major milestone at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as the modified mobile launcher (ML), sitting atop a refurbished Crawler Transporter (CT-2), took its maiden voyage to Launch Pad 39B and then to the Vehicle Assembly Building for fit checks and testing. The ML will support NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft during processing and launch.

This milestone represents a critical step in NASA’s preparations for Exploration Mission-1, the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will extend the frontiers of human deep space exploration. Scheduled to launch in 2020, Exploration Mission-1 will be the first launch of SLS and Orion, the backbone of America’s deep space exploration program.

“Delivering full lifecycle aerospace capability enables Jacobs to support NASA in their continued success of deep space exploration and next generation of launch vehicles,” said Jacobs Aerospace, Technology, Environmental and Nuclear Senior Vice President Steve Arnette. “The ML passage to the launch pad atop Crawler Transporter-2 is a major milestone, as the last time a crawler-transporter and mobile launcher rolled out together was in 2011.”

As the operations support contractor for the NASA Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program at KSC, Jacobs transported the ML to Launch Pad 39B where the company joined contractors in connecting ML systems with pad systems to perform interface fit checks. The crawler then carried the ML back to the Vehicle Assembly Building on Sept. 8, where Jacobs, in partnership with NASA, will spend several months completing multi-element verification and validation testing of systems from the ground all the way to the control room in the Launch Control Center.

According to NASA EGS Program Manager Mike Bolger, “This milestone represents the completion of construction and ground support equipment installation on the ML and the culmination of years of hard work by a team that has the capability, resilience and ‘can do’ attitude that exemplifies KSC and makes it such a special place to work.”

Rolling at an average pace of 0.7 mph, the 6.6-million-pound crawler is operated by a team of 30 people, including drivers in the cab, along with engineers and technicians operating the engine rooms, jacking and leveling systems, pump and control rooms. In addition, observers on the ground monitor the giant rolling tracks and associated gears and hydraulics.

The 380-foot-tall ML consists of a two-story base that is the platform for a tower equipped with connection structures, called umbilicals, and launch accessories that will provide SLS and Orion with power, communications, coolant, fuel and stabilization prior to launch.

As NASA’s largest services contractor, Jacobs is a provider and integrator of full lifecycle aerospace capability including design and construction; base, mission and launch operations; sustaining capital maintenance; and secure and intelligent asset management, development, modification, and testing processes for fixed assets supporting national government, military, defense and NASA, as well as commercial space companies.

Jacobs leads the global professional services sector delivering solutions for a more connected, sustainable world. With $15 billion in fiscal 2017 revenue when combined with full-year CH2M revenues and a talent force of more than 77,000, Jacobs provides a full spectrum of services including scientific, technical, professional and construction- and program-management for business, industrial, commercial, government and infrastructure sectors. For more information, visit www.jacobs.com, and connect with Jacobs on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Statements made in this release that are not based on historical fact are forward-looking statements. We base these forward-looking statements on management’s current estimates and expectations as well as currently available competitive, financial and economic data. Forward-looking statements, however, are inherently uncertain. There are a variety of factors that could cause business results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements. For a description of some of the factors which may occur that could cause actual results to differ from our forward-looking statements please refer to our Form 10-K for the year ended September 29, 2017, and in particular the discussions contained under Items 1 – Business, 1A – Risk Factors, 3 – Legal Proceedings, and 7 – Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. We do not undertake to update any forward-looking statements made herein.

  • 76 er

    This was new fifty years ago when the first CT rolled out and spaceflight was a bold, grand experiment. That’s no longer the case.

  • windbourne

    The SLS is going to die sooner, not later. As such, I wonder if the ML can be used by Spacex for the BFR, or by BO for new Glenn?

  • 76 er

    It’s going to be a real dogfight to get SLS shut down. As others have pointed out, there are very powerful vested interests in that program.

  • duheagle

    The ML’s and CT’s were over-engineered for Saturn V but needed beefing up to handle the Shuttle with its massively heavy SRB’s. More beefing up was needed to handle the even more massive SLS SRB’s. BFR will have no need of such things, especially given its return-to-launch-mount style of operation. If SLS is cancelled, the ML’s will either be scrapped or go to museums or be repurposed to handle NGIS’s OmegA, should the latter actually be developed. Ditto the CT’s.

    Blue has no need of all this ironmongery either. New Glenn will be operating from a revamped SLC-36. This pad will have no crawlerway for a CT and no fitments to accommodate an ML. New Armstrong, when it appears, will be a peer of BFR and, like it, will also have no need of all the beef needed to move huge solid boosters around.

  • duheagle

    True. But time is not on their side.

  • windbourne

    i keep thinking about hurricanes, etc.
    Seems like if the rocket can not be moved, then the rockets will need to be able to launched very quickly and sent to a different site.

  • windbourne

    Oh, SLS will not be shut down by CONgress’s will.
    It will be shut down because the BFR will be so much cheaper.

  • Robert G. Oler

    BFR wont shut SLS down…it is a long time away

  • duheagle

    Interesting point. But I’m not sure even the upgraded facilities at the Cape would be sufficient to guarantee survival of really big vehicles in a really nasty hurricane. I seem to recall that the VAB, where such vehicles would presumably shelter, took some pretty extensive damage in a hurricane awhile back.

    The notional BFR ground infrastructure includes a big ass crane to stack BFS atop BFB. That would have to be engineered to survive a maximum hurricane. I believe SpaceX intends to use some sort of transporter-erector to move BFB stages from their port of arrival to the pad. Building a suitable horizontal shelter would be a lot less demanding than thoroughly storm-proofing the VAB.

    Still, at the point where both the Cape and Boca Chica have BFR pads, the idea of suborbital hopping as an alternative weather-avoidance approach might be viable. The odds of two major hurricanes hitting Boca Chica and the Cape simultaneously are essentially zero.

  • duheagle

    So you seem to believe – for no rational reason I can descry. As little as a year from now – perhaps even less – we should have a pretty good idea of which of us is going to be correct about BFR’s debut date.

  • windbourne

    Need to add the west coast as well for a sitting area.
    Tx will probably not be a great place to send these to. SX has a limited number of launches there and BFR will drive those ppl BATTY.

  • duheagle

    The West Coast is already the BFR’s first construction site, but there is nowhere conveniently close to said site from which to realistically conduct either suborbital launches or landings. Initial deliveries from the San Pedro BFR plant are already slated to be via oceangoing ship or barge. Additional production sites have been hinted at but not explicitly identified. The most likely candidate sites are the Cape and Boca Chica. Even if these notional additional factories are notbuilt, SpaceX will certainly build space at these launch sites for periodically required BFR refurbishment ops. The factory/maintenance complexes can be built to withstand hurricanes – problem solved.

    There seem to be a lot of people in the South Padre Island area who are already taking steps to make money off BFR launches once they start. New hotels, for example. The Boca Chica area is not heavily populated except by bibulous and libidinous college students during Spring Break. I think SpaceX can easily afford to buy the acquiescence of the locals to anything it may want to do in future, including permanent closure of a piece of currently public beachfront and a launch cadence that exceeds 12 per year.

  • 76 er

    “acquiescence of the locals”

    I like your spring break “b and l” phrase above, that’s good…but to be the devil’s advocate here, I recall that a wildlife preserve is located adjacent to the Boca Chica launch site which is the reason for the 12 launch limit. In my opinion It wouldn’t take much for someone local to get ‘hazard to wildlife’ injunctions placed on launches. If the Saturn V could rattle dental fillings 5 miles away, what’ll the BFR be like? I think windbourne’s description of “batty” is apt.