back to article NASA's Ares V may crush Kennedy crawlerway

The budget for NASA's Constellation programme - comprising the Orion and Ares vehicles - looks like it may have run to a few billion cubic metres of road surfacing after the agency admitted the Kennedy Space Center crawlerway over which spacecraft are trundled to their launchpads could collapse under the weight of the Ares V …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Cue whining...

    ... about how the miniscule NASA budget could be better spent "saving the world" in some way. Perhaps they want to spend it on change this time around.

  2. RainForestGuppy
    Thumb Up

    "vertical integration element risk assessment"

    == How far will it sink into the tarmac.

  3. dervheid

    Is this the same crawlerway...

    that the Apollo Saturn 5's were rolled out on?

    Damn, that's one heavy MF of a rocket then.

    Sounds like it needs to go on a diet then (but not a 'crash diet'!) like many things 'merkin!

  4. Tim Spence


    Why the hell are you talking in the order of many millions of kilograms?! I'd have thought 7,700 tons would be easier to work with (and visualise) than 7.7 million kgs.

    In fact, why not go for one of the Reg's arbitrary weight scales - 7.7 million kgs equates to what, 192,500 midgets on unicycles, or 58 million iPhone 3Gs?

  5. Charles

    but what about the crawler itself?

    That thing was built in the Apollo program, and modified for the shuttle. Imagine 20 bulldozers hooked together, geared down to a top speed of 2.0 Kmh painted grey and rusting in the Florida sunshine

  6. Mister Cheese
    Paris Hilton

    SI units

    7,700,000kg = 1.83MJb (megaJubs) if I'm not mistaken...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    "could fail to support the load, resulting in severe impacts..."

    Best accidental pun of the week.

    @Tim Spence:

    You think 58 million iPhone 3Gs would way 7.7 million KG? You're saying each iPhone 3G weighs about 7.5KG? I don't think even the mactards would want to carry that in their pockets (I could be wrong though!)

    As for "7,700 tons would be easier to work with"... that's true, seeing as 7.7 million KG is 7,700 tonnes which in turn is 8,470 tons, so sure, if they could suddenly reduce it weight, it would certainly be easier to work with! (1 tonne is 1000KG, 1 ton is 2000lb, 1KG is 2.2lb therefore 1 tonne is 2200lb)


  8. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Kilograms

    Careful, tonnes not tons!

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @ AC who cant do maths

    58million iphones weighing (NOT waying...) 7.7million KG would come in at 133g per phone,

    for your 7.5kg you distributed the phones amongst the weight, not the weight amongst the phones, by your maths its 7.5 phones to the kg, rather than 7.5 kg to the phone

    if you are going to correct people you should make damn sure you are correct yourself (especially if you then call yourself a pedant)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Pedant by AC

    Urm... 58 million iPhones @ 7.5kg each is 435x10^6kg not 7.7x10^6kg.

    Did you forget to use the divide button... lets see...

    7.7x10^6 / (divide, see that?) 58x10^6 = 0.132kg... or just over 130g... Even a "mactard" can carry that in their pocket (as their wallet will be much lighter after buying said iPhone). Obviously you are not well practiced at being a pedant.

    "(I could be wrong though!)" - Indeed.

  11. Joey Y

    1.1 meters total?

    I am pretty sure that the crawlerway is 7-10 feet (2.1 - 3 meters) deep.

    In fact, from NASA's website ( ):

    Depth: Average depth is 2 meters (7ft)

  12. Anonymous Coward


    You relinquished your right to be a pedant when you wrote "way" instead of "weigh" and "it" instead of "its" :-p

  13. Tim Spence


    Sod you all, you knew what I meant!

    @ AC

    58 million iPhone 3Gs would **weigh** (not way) approx. 7.7 million kg. They are 0.135 kg each.

  14. Richard

    @AC - Pedant

    'You think 58 million iPhone 3Gs would way 7.7 million KG? You're saying each iPhone 3G weighs about 7.5KG? I don't think even the mactards would want to carry that in their pockets (I could be wrong though!)'

    What the hell kind of maths is that?

    If each iPhone weighed 7.5kg, and there were 58 million, then that'd 435 million kilos in total, not 7.7 million. 7.7m total weight / 58m iPhones = 132.75g, which is about right.

  15. Alan Esworthy

    Test load?

    I think what's needed is a test load or three to see what happens to the roadbed with extra weight.

    Let's see...10.9 million Kg divided by about 80 Kg per "unit" means they'd need no more than 136,250 fanbois to get the desired weight. Easy! Go to any Merkin shopping mall on Sunday afternoon and shout "Free 3G iPhones!" You'd need a lot of buses, though.

  16. RRRoamer

    The Apollo series

    weight approximately 2,000 tons MORE than the shuttle does at lift off. So we are talking about an increase of 1,000 tons over the Apollo.

    Of course, this IS a different NASA these days. Back in the day, it was a bunch of kids (average age of 27 at one point) and a few PHDs. Now, it is a bunch of bureaucrats (who are PHDs) and a handful of engineers.

    If Apollo 13 happened today, the crew would be dead before the ground team could even identify the chair of the committee that was going to investigate the REPORT of the problem.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Tim Spence

    Most of us can automatically convert from kilogrammes to tonnes in our heads without any conscious thought, so what does it matter. Indeed given that a tonne is only 1000kg surely a bigger unit of measurement would be better, so measuring in millions of kg makes perfect sense. Would that be a terragramme?

    Paris because even she can add or knock of a few zeroes.

  18. Linbox

    Short Ton

    'Merkins use short tons = 2000Lbs = 907Kg. The "Long" ton = 2240Lbs = 1,016Kg.

    As it's a yank vehicle, so the would have measured it in pounds and used short tons ... Unless NASA use the Navy convention of weighing ships in long tons ....

    Clear now?

  19. Adrian Waterworth

    1 ton = 2000lb?

    Is this some kind of merkin ton then? I always thought that an old-fashioned ton was 20 hundredweight, where a hundredweight was eight stone (or 112 lbs), making a ton something like 2240lb. Or 40lb (18 or so kg) more than a metric tonne. Well, probably not 18kg 'cos the 2.2lb to the kg thing isn't quite accurate, but you know what I mean.

    Or maybe they just taught me the wrong stuff at school or something.

    Or is this where long tons and short tons come in? I can't remember...

  20. Patrick O'Reilly

    @Tim Spence

    Can we roll the Ares V over 58 millions iPhones? Or even better 58 Million iPhone users, that would be killing two birds with one stone.

  21. Martin Silver badge


    >58 million iPhone 3Gs would **weigh** (not way) approx. 7.7 million kg.

    Actually they would have a mass of 7.7M Kg, they would weigh 77.5M N

    pass the coat - it's the white lab coat with the pocket protector!

  22. Gareth Jones Silver badge


    Hold on a mo'

    1 ton (imperial) is 20 cwt* and therefore 2240lb.

    2000lb is often referred to as a short ton or net ton, but it's not a real ton it's just for people too lazy to do the maths. So a ton is actually slightly heavier than a tonne, which is only 2204.6lb. So 7,700 tons is actually 7,823,641kg which is almost certainly harder to work with that 7,700,000kg in any sense.

    Please note that pedants should be properly pedantic.

    *Note for furriners: cwt is an abreviation of hundredweight, which is 8 stone, 1 stone is 14lb, so 1 cwt is 112lb

  23. Graham Dawson Silver badge


    I was wrong! Never underestimate the Register Readership's ability to go off on a complete tangent... :D

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Obvious Answer...

    Do the final assembly on the launch pad and put the construction shed on wheels...

  25. Gianni Straniero

    Nit pickers

    While you're all ripping into eachother for fluffing your arithmetic, you might be interested to know the composition of the crawlerway. There are some bare factoids on the KSC website:

    What they don't mention is that the river gravel was specially selected to be the lowest sparking material available. While the main tank isn't fuelled until the vehicle gets to the launch complex, you still really do not want your crawler setting off sparks underneath a million kilograms of ammonium perchlorate, aluminium and iron oxide.

    Flames, not because I'm angry...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Universal weight measurement...

    Well, what about a more technical and univeral measurement of weight... how many DD cup female breasts (or technically known as jugs) would I have to hold in the palm of my hands to have held the equivilent weight of the new shuttle on the asumption that the average pair weighs 2.5kg (and a nice weight it is too!)?

    (Should keep this thread going!)

    Paris cause she wishes she had another 2.5kg in the right place!

  27. Tom


    The Ares V is too big, and the Ares I is too small (having trouble lifting a fully kitted out Orion capsule).

    Solution: Instead of 1 huge and 1 small, why not launch 2 large? That way, you don't have to rebuild the infrastructure, and you only have to design one launch vehicle.

    Designed by NASA engineers, but blocked by NASA management.

  28. Mike Moyle

    Re: AC Pedant

    Can we agree, then, that he was "hoist on his own pe(dan)tard"?

  29. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
    Thumb Down

    Slightly off topic but still in space...

    I just watched Alien Resurrection for the first time today. What a pile of old toss and a real shame to see such a great series of movies sink to a low like that.

    Still, anyone think Ares will get to LV426?

  30. RW

    I can hardly wait

    The NASA bureaucracy will overrule the engineers on grounds of political expediency ("don't let the facts get in the way of truth, justice, and the American way), the crawler will set out on its journey overloaded, the crawlerway will fail under the excess load as the subsoil gives way, and the entire apparatus will slowly sink into the Florida muck. And then fall over on its side.

    I'd be very interested in comments by a civil engineer on the various failure modes.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    RE: Test load?

    Not to be pedantic but I assume the 136,250 fanbois weigh 80KG each, you forgot to include the weight of the iphone 3G each fanboi would be carrying,

    133 grams x 136,250 = 18,121.25 kilograms

    136,250 - (18,121.25 / 80) = 136,023 fanbois

  32. Steve Ives
    Paris Hilton


    I feel I should point out, what with all this arguing over tons & tonnes, that whilst the ton is a unit of weight, the tonne is a unit of mass...

    Oh - and a ton is about 2,200lb, not 2,000.


  33. David Boosalis

    Add more surface area

    Why not just add more contact to the ground and spread the weight out. It can't be that much to add design treads with bigger surface area. Farm tractors have been implementing this for years so they don't damage crops.

  34. Tim Spence

    RE: @Tim Spence by another AC

    Yes, I too posses the ability to knock a few zeros off a number, but the point is, why should I? Why list something's weight (sorry, mass) in x millions kgs when there is a larger better unit available, which shrinks the number to something tangible.

    Going by your logic they might as well have listed it in micrograms? That would be 7,700,000,000,000,000 µg. There, easy isn't it. How about yoctograms? That makes it 7.7e+33 yg. Oooh yes, much clearer.

  35. Martin Gregorie

    @dervheid - Apollo vs Ares heavyweight champs

    The difference between Apollo and Ares is that Apollo was entirely liquid fuelled while Ares uses solid 1st stage boosters. That makes a huge difference to the weight of the vehicle during roll-out from the assembly building to the launch pad.

    Apollo was nothing but empty tanks containing enough compressed air to stop the stack from collapsing. All its fuel was loaded once it was on the launch pad.

    The Ares solid boosters will be in place, just like the Shuttle's solid boosters are, during the roll-out. Solid boosters are HEAVY, so I wouldn't be surprised if Shuttle is heavier than Apollo at this stage. Ares will certainly be heavier.

  36. Martin Silver badge

    @I can hardly wait

    They said I were mad to build a rocket on a swamp, but I built one anyway - it sank into the swamp.

    So I built another one, that fell over burned down then sank into the swamp.


  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yes, very good. NASA needs help. Maybe the Beagle 2 team are available. Oh, wait a minute....

  38. Gulfie

    wrong Tech

    I've said it before and I'll say it again... This is the wrong way to return to the moon, we should be using this opportunity to develop new tech, not to simply re-use 1960's tech on a larger scale.

    Waste of money. We need something that is (a) reusable and (b) less polluting.

  39. cphi
    Thumb Up


    ah - but the fourth one stayed up! - and that's what you'll get son, the strongest rocket in the country

  40. Neoc

    Re: 1.1 meters total?

    Somebody beat me to the MJbs, so instead:

    @Joey Y: Re-read the article: 200mm of gravel, 900mm below that and *then* about 1.1 meters of substrate. Which makes (roughly) a road 2m-2.2m deep.

    It just happens that the upper two levels and the lower two levels of stratum both add up to ~1.1m each.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    Does Gus Hedges work for NASA?

    "Vertical integration element risk assessment" sounds very much like something he would say.

    NASA was probably hoping that the report would actually advise that they "have a potentially ongoing uplift scenario".

  42. Fozzy
    Thumb Up

    @Patrick O'Reilly

    in amongst the chaotic sea of pedantic commentary on the conversion of weights, you are the lone voice of reason and sanity

  43. Grave


    tonne is not recognized by International System of Units (SI), proper SI unit for a tonne would be a "megagram" (7.7 million kg = 7 700 Mg = 7.7 Gg - gigagrams)

    (ironically only three nations have not officially adopted the International System of Units as their primary or sole system of measurement: Liberia, Myanmar and United States - welcome to 21st century?)

    its important to use international standards esp. in science and space research to avoid errors in calculations because of different systems of units (this already caused several critical failures)

  44. James Anderson


    Shurly the Reg unit of wieght should be the "Prescot" ( 95.2 kilos) in honor of "two jags" himself.

    Handily this is about the same as the "Widdicome" which could be adopted after the expected Regime Change.

  45. lasersage

    test load

    stuff all this weight mass mumbo jumbo, they just need to build a giant weighing scales, rockets on one end, giant bath tub on the other. Fill with water until balanced then shift bath tub on said bull dozers down the walk way. If it sinks, cracks, slips, you lose some water. If not then you're probably safe to shift the real rocket. Do it a few times to be sure, maybe even on a windy day. Daft civil engineers and surveyors panicking when all they need is me giant tub.

  46. John Robson Silver badge

    @Tim Spence

    "Yes, I too posses the ability to knock a few zeros off a number, but the point is, why should I? Why list something's weight (sorry, mass) in x millions kgs when there is a larger better unit available, which shrinks the number to something tangible.

    Going by your logic they might as well have listed it in micrograms? That would be 7,700,000,000,000,000 µg. There, easy isn't it. How about yoctograms? That makes it 7.7e+33 yg. Oooh yes, much clearer."

    Well the kg is actually the SI unit, so makes the logical choice. We are talking about a scientific organisation (well, one with scientific roots at any rate).

    What's odd is that the SI unit is the only one to require a prefix. We should redefine the gram to 1000 times its current value, and maybe rename it for simpletons. Then the SI unit would be a "proper" unit and not a multiple.

    TBH I'm happier knowing how many zeroes I'm dealing with - maybe 7.7E+6 kg

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Goodby Yellow Brick Road

    Time to loose some weight. Typical American then.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    RE: Pedantry

    It is unusual for Americans not to exaggerate but in this case a US ton = 2000lb. (I thought you knew that)

  49. Jon Green
    Paris Hilton

    "a few billion cubic metres of road surfacing" ???

    Eh? Let's assume the whole thing, including mid-strip, gets resurfaced. 40m width x 2.5m depth (average) x 4800m length = 480,000 cubic metres!

    A "few billion cubic metres of road surfacing" could put a crawlerway around the widest circumference of the planet! (40m x 2.5m x 40076000m = 4.0076 bn m^3)

    (Yes, yes, I know, there's this inconvenient thing called sea in the way, but you get my meaning.)

    Paris, because she could have worked that out...

  50. Anonymous Coward

    I guess it's time... invent the Anti-Gravity Engine

    Should make it a bit lighter.

  51. Steve

    Why not

    just tie a lot of helium ballons to it?

    (I'll leave the necessary calculations as an exercise for the reader)

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I've said it before....

    Space programme = propaganda

    Really, who fucking cares?

  53. Rebecca Putman

    Saturn V Rocket

    The Saturn V weighed in at 3,000 short tons, or 2.72 million kgs, while the Ares V weighs in at 8,487.8 short tons.

    Guess they'll have to dig out the crawlerway and improve the foundation.

    Stop, because the road is under construction. Or should be.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    she'll be right mate!

    Just slap some paint on it and she'll be right mate!

  55. Anonymous Coward


    My girlfriend says she loves me 10 megaJubs. She tells me it's a lot.

  56. rick buck

    Double yer trouble, Double yer fun

    How about just doubling up the track width, and adding twice the tracks and your in

    luck, it works.

This topic is closed for new posts.