The Crawler transports the shuttle to the launch pad after being mated with the shuttle in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Mating takes about ten days. This Crawler, one of several, is parked in a storage facility on the Crawlway that leads to Pads 39-A and 39-B.
The Crawler is about five stories high and is driven by one person with a whole lot of help. Spotters walk ahead of the Crawler when a Shuttle is mated to the Crawler and the Crawler is transporting the shuttle to the launch pad. A second parking facility for Crawler parking is adjacent to the three Orbiter Processing Facilities (OPF = hangar) and the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
The final trip for the Crawler transporting a shuttle, the Atlantis, from the VAB to Launch Pad 39-A was on the night of May 31-June 1, 2011. Unless weather forces a return of the Atlantis back to the VAB for safety, the Crawler will never be used again to transport a shuttle, but just as the Crawlers found life after the Apollo Moon capsules and rockets, so too they will likely soldier on.
In case you’d like to buy one to drive around your neighborhood, you will want to kick the tires wearing steel boots. Those aren’t tires; the Crawler is driven, like tanks, by tracks.
This photograph was taken by Carol Anne Swagler on May 17, 2011.
© 2011, Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC and Carol Anne Swagler.