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, techni
cal, 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, Facebookand Instagram.