Preparing for Liftoff
Langan Monitors NASA Crawler-Transporter in Anticipation of Upcoming Space Mission
We all know what to expect at countdown “3… 2… 1… LIFTOFF!” Then the roar of the rocket engine, the nervous energy of those watching, the palpable excitement in the air. But what happens before the countdown?
Peek behind the scenes with Langan’s surveying team as we recap our latest mission at Kennedy Space Center.
Mission: Provide real-time monitoring of the Crawler-Transporter (CT) as it moves from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B. Record the amount of ground deformation caused by the CT to ensure the Crawlerway can withstand its weight, provide stability, and avoid soil liquefaction.
Let’s break this down further. Prior to NASA’s Artemis I launch to the moon scheduled for later this year, the CT must transport the Orion spacecraft 4.2 miles down a path named the Crawlerway. The catch? The Artemis mission requires the CT to carry the heaviest load ever recorded. With the fully loaded CT weighing in at 25.5 million pounds (or 1,020 school buses) and moving at a leisurely pace of 0.3-0.7 MPH (or approximately 26 feet per minute), working slow and steady was key to winning this space race.
Langan split the solution into four components. First: develop a procedure that simultaneously conducts measurements on both sides of the CT and reports them to the team within seven seconds of recording. Second: design brackets to secure the surveying equipment without making any permanent modifications to the CT. Third: establish two survey control networks – one on the Crawlerway and another outside the area of influence of the soil liquefaction. And finally: put all of the planning into practice and provide precise, real-time monitoring of the CT.
“Developing a surveying system that accurately measured the immediate effects of the heaviest load ever moved on land is a massive undertaking, to say the least,” said Bryan Merritt, Senior Survey Project Manager at Langan. “After two years of intense, collaborative, innovative work, our team successfully steered the project across the finish line. We are proud of the role we played in supporting the Artemis I mission and can’t wait to follow its space exploration journey.”