Crawler – The Rocket Transporter !

November 24, 2015
Crawler transporting Discovery spacecraft to launchpad.

Human being started using animals to carry load when it exceeded his carrying capacity. Then he started building machines to carry even more load & to transport faster. Today huge trucks carry massive amounts of load & the best example is the biggest truck in the world – The BelAZ 75710 which can carry 450 tons of dirt. Still, there was something left, something to be made to carry these massive rockets & space shuttles. So how are they transported ? The answer is – CRAWLER !

Crawlers are a pair of tracked vehicles used by NASA to transport rockets & space shuttles from NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)  to the Launch Complex 39 !

Launch Complex 39 (LC-39) is a rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida, USA. Launch Complex 39 is composed of three launch pads—39A, 39B and 39C.
The Crawlerway is a 40 m double pathway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It runs between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the two launch pads at Launch Complex 39.

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Facts :-

  • The crawler-transporter is the largest self-powered land vehicle in the world.
  • The crawler has a mass of 2,721,000 kilograms (5,999,000 lb) and has eight tracks, two on each corner.
  • The vehicle measures 40 by 35 metres (131 by 114 ft). The height from ground level to the platform is adjustable from 6.1 to 7.9 m (20 to 26 ft), and each side can be raised and lowered independently.
  • As of 2003, each crawler had 16 traction motors, powered by four 1,000 kW (1,341 hp) generators, in turn driven by two 2,050 kW (2,750 hp) V16 ALCO 251C diesel engines.
  • The crawler’s tanks holds 19,000 liters (5,000 U.S. gal) of diesel fuel, and it roughly burns 296 liters per kilometer (125.7 U.S. gal/mi).
  • The new upgrade to one of the crawlers increased it’s capacity from 5,400,000 to 8,200,000 kg.
  • The crawler is controlled from two control cabs located at either end of the vehicle, and travels along the 5.6 km (3.5 mi) crawlerway.
  • The maximum speed of crawler is 1.6 km/h (1 mph) loaded, or 3.2 km/h (2 mph) unloaded.
  • The average trip time from the VAB along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39 is about five hours.
  • Kennedy Space Center has been using the same two crawlers, nicknamed “Hans” and “Franz”.
  • Each of the two crawlers cost about US $14 million !!!
  • In their lifetime, they have traveled more than 5,500 km (3,400 mi), about the same driving distance as from Miami to Seattle.

Differences, Advantages & Disadvantages of 4 stroke vs 2 stroke engine

November 5, 2015
differences, advantages, disadvantages of 4 stroke and 2 stroke engine

Earlier in the Engines section we saw how 4 stroke & 2 stroke engines work ! We might like to give a thought on which is better one OR which has more advantages. So in this article we are going to discuss about the differences, advantages & disadvantages of 4 stroke & 2 stroke engine. more “Differences, Advantages & Disadvantages of 4 stroke vs 2 stroke engine”

How does a hovercraft work ? | Design & Application

October 29, 2015

Human started with just wheels for travelling & transportation purposes at first. Then came bikes, cars & trains which could be driven on land. The next difficulty was to overcome the vast oceans & seas which led to invention of ships. Engineers are still finding ways to make today’s vehicles more better & efficient even though we have achieved success in almost every mode of travelling & transportation. One of the extraordinary machine in history of vehicles is hovercraft. Lets see how does a hovercraft works ? more “How does a hovercraft work ? | Design & Application”

How & why does a whip make a cracking sound ?

October 22, 2015

The carriage drivers whipcrack (We will get to this term soon) the whip . So we thought that the whip must be hitting the animal or perhaps must be hitting itself & that might be the reason why we are able to hear the loud sound ! But aa-aa, that’s not the reason and also there isn’t a small sound speaker to produce sound (humour me & ignore it 😛 ). Everyone must have observed this… but ever thought about it that how & why does a whip make a cracking sound ? more “How & why does a whip make a cracking sound ?”

How does a 2 stroke engine work ?

October 11, 2015

In my previous article, we learned how 4 stroke engines work ! This time we will learn about the second type of engine i.e 2 stroke engine. The 2 stroke engine is a type of Internal combustion engine where one power cycle is completed with two strokes of the piston during only one rotation of crankshaft. The first commercial two-stroke engine involving in-cylinder compression is attributed to Scottish engineer Dugald Clerk.

The 2 stroke engine performs all the same steps which are performed by 4 stroke engine – suction, compression, expansion & exhaust; but the 2 stroke engine performs these all steps in only 2 stroke unlike the 4 stroke engine which completes one power cycle in 4 strokes. more “How does a 2 stroke engine work ?”

How does a 4 stroke engine work ?

October 7, 2015
Working of 4 stroke engine with animation

These are the most basic engines used in cars & bikes i.e Four stroke cycle petrol engine OR 4 stroke engine(often called). It is very easy to understand until & unless you wanna do all the thermodynamic calculations & all that stuff ! more “How does a 4 stroke engine work ?”

NASA’s next Mars rover mission – 2020

October 1, 2015

After an overwhelming success of Mars rover mission 2012, NASA’s next nuclear powered Mars rover is planned to launch in 2020. Scientists say that – it is gonna be way more smarter & efficient than Curiosity, which is currently exploring the red planet.

Curiosity rover
I mean seriously, this thing is the LORD of robots… just look at it & it’s complexities ! (source:-

Curiosity had an awesome design, heck lot of instruments, also its launch & entry into atmosphere of Mars & its landing – all went perfect as planned.

The rover 2020 mission is planned to explore a selected site which is geologically diverse & gives signs of having a past life.

This rover will collect samples of soil & rock and drop them at a selected point. Later those samples will be scooped up another mission to deliver the specimens collected back to Earth.
The development of this mission is a combination of the “old” and the “new,” said Gentry Lee, chief engineer for Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.
Mission engineers said that the rover is going to get a new refined design.

Curiosity has been battling wear & tear on its wheels.

Wheels of Curiosity
Damage caused to the wheels of Curiosity ! (source:-

The 2020 rover wheels are going to become more heavy along with the rover’s body becoming a little longer. That may change the rover’s mobility system.

We are really looking at ways to make this largely heritage, built-to-print rover drive faster and do more science on the surface of Mars

said Jennifer Trosper, JPL’s mission manager on Mars 2020.

The future rover would have machines which will increase the speed of it even on rough terrains, Trosper said.

Instruments selected for rover 2020 mission which are also assembled on Curiosity. (source:-

The mechanical design & additional instruments would make mission efficiency jump from Curiosity’s roughly 55% to 80% !!
Eagerly waiting for _______ !

The Mars Space Laboratory mission rover names –
1st was SOJOURNER;
2nd was OPPORTUNITY & it’s twin SPIRIT;
3rd was CURIOSITY;
all giving a positive inspirational, motivational feeling !

What do you think would be 2020 rover’s name ? Share with us in the comment section below…