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  Mobile Launcher Platforms (MLP) and crawlers (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Mobile Launcher Platforms (MLP) and crawlers
CAIR67
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posted 01-23-2009 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CAIR67     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anybody have pictures of MLP-1 side 1 (front side) from around 1974-till they modified it for the space shuttle. I'm trying to find proof that the side of the platform had signs signifying the launches that took place on MLP-1.

heng44
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posted 01-24-2009 05:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a photo I took in April of 1981. The sign reads: Apollo 4, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Skylab 2, Skylab 3, Skylab 4, ASTP.

CAIR67
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posted 01-24-2009 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for CAIR67     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perfect exactly what I was looking for!!

garymilgrom
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posted 01-24-2009 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is that the milk stool on the base?

heng44
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posted 01-24-2009 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, it is.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-24-2009 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great photo above, but are you sure it was taken in April 1981? At that time refurbished MLP-1 was supporting STS-1 launch operations, until Apr. 12, at Pad 39A. By the early 1980s two of the three mobile launcher platforms (#1 & 2) were shuttle operational. Gone from both were all the old Apollo-era structures and equipment that were modified for the shuttle program.

heng44
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posted 01-25-2009 03:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The photo was taken on April 6, 1981. There is no doubt about that. But I had never noticed before that there were two MLPs with the number 1 at that time! As you can see in the photo below, taken on the same day, this is the original MLP-1 with the Skylab/ASTP milkstool. In the background is MLP-2. But at that same time STS-1 was on the pad, also on MLP-1! This can only mean that MLP-3 was refurbished from Apollo-era MLP-3 into Shuttle-era MLP-1. I see no other explanation...

heng44
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posted 01-25-2009 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bingo! I found proof. The above is a photo of the Enterprise rollout in May 1979, using MLP-1. If you look closely at the number, you can see it was changed from #3. So as I suspected the Apollo era MLP-3 became the Shuttle-era MLP-1!

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-25-2009 10:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for posting the new photos as it does appear that the original MLP-3 was changed to MLP-1!

While covering the early shuttle program quite extensively, I just don't know when and why this was done. Even in my STS-1 "rollout" article coverage as a news media rep., nearing 30 years ago, along with many other shuttle related stories that were published throughout the late 1970s and early 80's, my articles only mentioned in some minor detail that MLP-1 and 2 were modified for the shuttle era.

Old shuttle news releases from NASA also confirm my original findings, however, as time permits I would like to examine various photo/history files of that MLP-refurbishment period.

If I come to a dead end from my own space resource library, perhaps a call or visit to NASA's history office here at Kennedy, along with the press site offices, may be required if more research is needed.

While certainly not a big deal or anything, I do enjoy working on a challenge or mystery like this. Meanwhile, if you (or anyone else) can shed any new light to the topic, let me know and I'll do the same from this end.

heng44
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posted 01-26-2009 05:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The MLP Wikipedia entry states:
In the post-Apollo years, the umbilical towers from Mobile Launchers 2 and 3 were removed. Portions of these tower structures were erected at the two Space Shuttle (or STS, for Space Transport System) launch pads, Pads 39 A and B. These permanent structures are now known as the "Fixed Service Structure" or in NASA's language of acronyms, FSS. The umbilical tower from Mobile Launcher 1 (which was the platform used for the most significant Apollo Missions) was taken apart and stored in the Kennedy Space Center's industrial area.

Ken Havekotte
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posted 01-26-2009 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice work as I just can't recall the umbilical tower takedowns from the late 70s in this capacity. There was a detailed NASA release, that I am still trying to locate here, that did better explain the refurbishment developments of the launch platforms. Why NASA didn't leave MLP-3 as the same designation, instead of changing it to #1, doesn't really make alot of sense to me. Perhaps with the start of the shuttle program, they wanted to use a #1 platform for engineering and "new start" operations. Why not just leave the #3 unit as the first modified platform to launch a shuttle vehicle?

heng44
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posted 01-27-2009 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for heng44   Click Here to Email heng44     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bingo again! I found final confirmation that today's MLP-3 was called Mobile Launcher 1 during the Apollo era.

An article in Lockheed's 'Stargazer' dated June 15, 1989 describes how MLP-3 was being activated for Shuttle launches. It was the last of the three MLPs to be converted. Frank Loesel of LSOC pointed out that MLP-3 was used to support some of the most historic missions of the Apollo era. "MLP-3 was designated Mobile Launcher 1 then", he said. "It was used for the very first Saturn 5 launch in November of 1967".

The article goes on describing how Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 were launched from that Mobile Launcher, after which is was modified for Skylab and ASTP. In September 1984 modifications for the Shuttle began by dismantling the LUT (Launcher Umbilical Tower).

This information is confirmed in an article in KSC's 'Spaceport News' dated September 8, 1989.

So Mobile Launcher 1 is now MLP-3. I rest my case.

garymilgrom
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posted 01-27-2009 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have heard that the crawler/transporters are named Hans and Franz - anyone know if this is true, and/or have photos of the names on the vehicles?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-27-2009 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Only the crawler transporters are named Hans and Franz, and their names are honorary and interchangeable. When I toured one of the crawlers in 2006, the shuttle era drivers said that their "names" do not appear on the vehicles themselves.

Jay Chladek
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posted 01-28-2009 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The names Hans and Franz came about in the mid-1990s and I think the first documented use for them was the Discovery Channel's documentary "The Space Shuttle" from 1994 where a crawler driver mentioned he nicknamed the pair that because they "Pump you up".

hlbjr
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posted 01-30-2009 06:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great picture (from the ground) of the "milkstool". Are there any pictures looking down on it which show the detail of the milkstool launch mounts, holddown arms, and tail umbilical connectors? Are these launch mounts and other hardware from Pad 34? Thanks for your help.

mikej
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posted 01-30-2009 07:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hlbjr:
Are there any pictures looking down on it which show the detail of the milkstool launch mounts, holddown arms, and tail umbilical connectors?
The Skylab Saturn IB Flight Manual on p. 7-3 (p. 228 in the PDF) notes that "Firing accessories for the S-IB stage were removed from LC-34/37B and are installed on the pedestal deck." It contains a description of the launcher and on p. 232 of the PDF there's a diagram of the propellant masts, short cable masts, holddown arms, boattail conditioning connectors, etc.

Mr Meek
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posted 03-25-2009 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During the MLP-1 handover ceremony (from the shuttle program to Constellation), Mike Leinbach referred to missions that the Apollo-era ML-1 supported. Assuming the ML-1/MLP-3, ML-3/MLP-1 switcheroo is correct (and I find no reason to doubt it), then perhaps Mr. Leinbach should have been recalling Apollos 10, 13, 15, 16, and 17.

Like Ken said, it's really not a big deal nitpicking over which is which. Seeing the "Go Ares I-X!" banner revealed was exciting, and whatever the specific history of this item is, it is ultimately one of the larger tangible reminders of the hard work and dedication of those who have supported (literally) manned spaceflight over the last 40+ years.

PeterMart
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posted 03-29-2009 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterMart   Click Here to Email PeterMart     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To the best of my knowledge, the original MLP 1 (as shown in the above photos) was used for the most significant missions (Apollo 8, 11, SL 2-4, and ASTP). It was also the last to be taken apart. The fate of its Launch Umbilical Tower was a junkyard in the industrial area of KSC. There were efforts to restore/save this Launch Umbilical Tower, but it has now been scrapped due to environmental regulations. This effort was in large part due to the historic missions (mentioned above) that had used this tower.

Meanwhile in 78-79 (?) the Launch Umbilical Tower on MLP 2 and 3 were installed / modified as the Fixed Service Structures for the shuttle pads 39A and 39B. The associated launch platforms themselves were re-numbered MLP 1 and MLP 2 and modified to handle the shuttle.

In 1981, After being disassembled and having it's tower placed in storage, the MLP 1 was re-numbered to MLP 3 and converted for shuttle operations.

So to recap, MLP 1 was indeed renamed MLP 3, but its Launch Umbilical Tower was not used as a part of shuttle operations.

Sorry if this is a bit wordy, but I hope this cleared up / confirmed anything that had already been said.

Interesting thread.

astro-nut
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posted 04-19-2009 05:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would greatly appreciate information on MLP #1, #2 and #3. Which MLP did Apollo 6, Apollo 9 and Apollo 12 launch from and did MLP 1 become MLP 3 and MLP 3 become MLP 1 during the shuttle transition (like stated above). Mike Leinbach said that MLP 1 (which recently launched STS-119) has had 51 launches from the platform. Does anyone know which space shuttle missions were launched from MLP 1 (and MLP 2 and MLP 3 as well)?

astro-nut
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posted 10-26-2009 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know which Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) was used for the Apollo 6 rollout and launch?

Jay
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posted 10-26-2009 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay   Click Here to Email Jay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apollo 6 used MLP-2.

LM-12
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posted 11-09-2012 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Which crawler-transporters hauled which Apollo flights out to the pad?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

413 is in
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posted 11-10-2012 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought I would share these recently acquired vintage Kodacolor prints of one of the crawler transporters and an associated photo of Launch Complex 34. All were taken in February 1967, just after the Apollo 1 spacecraft fire. Thanks to Ken Havekotte for his keen eye in identifying the pad.

spaceman1953
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posted 11-11-2012 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All brought to you courtesy of the Marion Steamshovel and Power Company of Ohio!

LM-12
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posted 09-16-2013 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Meanwhile, if you (or anyone else) can shed any new light to the topic, let me know
More MLP history can be found in this 2009 HAER survey of the Mobile Launcher Platforms.
In 1975, Reynolds, Smith & Hill created drawings for the conversion of ML-3 into the first "mobile launcher platform", MLP-1 ... In September 1976, RS&H received a second design contract for the conversion of ML-2 into MLP-2 ... Finally, in November 1982, RS&H was awarded an extension to their current contract for the drawings to convert ML-1 into MLP-3 ...

Ronpur
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posted 09-16-2013 10:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool thread!

I am assuming that since the tower on Apollo MLP #1 was not used for shuttle operations, and was the parts in the scrapyard, that its upper levels are now those in the Saturn V exhibit at KSC?

LM-12
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posted 10-08-2013 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the 2009 Historic American Engineering Record survey of the two Crawler Transporters.

LM-12
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posted 10-13-2013 12:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This 1976 photo shows the sign on ML-2 for Apollo 6, 9, 12, 14 and Skylab 1.

LM-12
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posted 10-13-2013 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo LUT swingarm 9 (white room) on ML-2 was repositioned to a lower level and became swingarm 6A for access to the Skylab 1 OWS.

LM-12
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posted 10-17-2013 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
KSC-77P-160 is a 1977 photo of ML-2 and the FSS at Pad 39A.

LM-12
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posted 10-18-2013 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some dates I have come across:
  • the ML-3 LUT was dismantled from December 1975 to March 1976; some sections were used to begin building the Pad 39A FSS later in 1976.

  • the ML-2 LUT was dismantled in 1978; some sections were used to begin building the Pad 39B FSS in 1979.

  • the ML-1 LUT was dismantled from June to December 1983; the sections were moved to the KSC boneyard and later scrapped.
ML-1 was on display in High Bay 1 for the 1976 bicentennial exposition at the VAB. ML-2 was parked outside the VAB. After the event, ML-2 was moved to Pad 39A, as seen in the 1976 and 1977 photos I linked earlier.

Ronpur
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posted 10-18-2013 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
The Apollo LUT swingarm 9 (white room) on ML-2 was repositioned to a lower level and became swingarm 6A for access to the Skylab 1 OWS.
Were there any other mods done to the White Room swingarm so it would match up to Skylab? Or was the workshop hatch designed to match the White Room arm?

LM-12
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posted 10-20-2013 01:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This 1983 edition of the Space News Roundup has a photo on page 1 of the STS-7 rollout on May 26.

ML-1 can be seen in the background. They started to dismantle ML-1, the last mobile launcher, the following month.

LM-12
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posted 10-23-2013 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This October 1983 photo shows ML-1 outside the VAB. The ML-1 tower has been dismantled. ML-1 became MLP-3.

J.L
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posted 10-23-2013 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LM-12:
This 1983 edition of the Space News Roundup has a photo on page 1 of the STS-7 rollout on May 26.

LM-12
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posted 10-23-2013 03:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yep, that's the photo. Thanks for taking the time to look for it. It is interesting to see both Apollo and Shuttle in the same photo like that. I was surprised that the last LUT was still around as late as STS-7. Great shot. Thanks J.L.

LM-12
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posted 10-25-2013 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ronpur:
Were there any other mods done to the White Room swingarm so it would match up to Skylab? Or was the workshop hatch designed to match the White Room arm?
From NASA SP-4208 Living And Working In Space: A History Of Skylab in Chapter 13:
Facility modifications were part and parcel of the operations debate, much of the discussion focusing on a new "contingency" arm for access to the workshop. The December 1969 plan called for entry through the side door, a new feature that KSC had lobbied for. In the assembly building, technicians would reach that door from service platforms; at the pad a new swing arm would provide contingency access. In 1970, the arm became the principal means of access to the workshop. The launcher's uppermost service arm (9, which Apollo astronauts used to board the command module) was relocated adjacent to the workshop's side hatch. An airlock, designed to protect the interior of the workshop from contamination, replaced the Apollo white room at the end of the arm. Rather than build a second airlock for operations in the assembly building, the engineering office recommended that the new arm be used there also.

Ronpur
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posted 10-26-2013 05:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! Same arm, new room/airlock then.

J.L
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posted 10-26-2013 06:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This might help. The "white room" for Skylab appears to have been number 6A.


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