One of the reasons for our trip to Kennedy Space Center was the opportunity to tour the Vehicle Assembly Building which hasn’t been open for the public to tour in over thirty years. Since it was open and the window (much like many launch windows) may not be long we thought it was a good idea to come down and see the building where space history was built.
The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. At 3,664,883 cubic meters, it is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume.
The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world, was the tallest building in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.
The VAB, which was completed in 1966, was originally built to allow for the vertical assembly of the Saturn V rocket for the Apollo program. It was then used for housing Space Shuttle external fuel tanks and flight hardware, and was where Space Shuttle orbiters were mated with their solid rocket boosters and external fuel tanks. Once assembled, the complete Space Shuttle was moved on the Mobile Launcher Platform and Crawler-Transporter to LC-39 Pad A or B.
The description and pictures linked above give an idea of the size but it is kind of hard to gain a lot of perspectives looking at the pictures. The flag on the left of the building (added in 1976) helps get an idea of the real size of the building. Each star on the flag is six feet tall, the field of blue is as large as a regulation basketball court and each stripe is as wide as a highway lane.
The building that housed over 500 employees prior to the Space Shuttle retirement last year was all but empty. What’s next for this building? Public tours are touted as temporary and if these two signs (2) inside are any indication – maybe something is likely to be built here soon.
P.S. – I didn’t use Instagram on these images. What you are seeing is a result of the bus window and no fancy electronics.