Reaching the Stars Begins by Moving One Small Stone
Before NASA can explore the deep reaches of space, another journey has to take place. It’s a 3.5-mile trek from the Vehicle Aassembly Building to the historic Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. Built in the 1960s, this stretch of road, known as the crawlerway, has carried payloads from Apollo and Saturn rockets to Space Shuttles weighing up to 18 million pounds each. In 2011, NASA planned to increase the weight to 25 million pounds per launch with a new vehicle delivery system. That meant preparing the crawlerway and adding new material that could stand up to the increased strain. And they tasked Jones Edmunds to make it happen.
For a job this big, we thought small. As in tiny river rocks. After extensive testing of rocks around the world using a full-scale loading scenario under tremendous pressure, Alabama river rock proved to be the right fit. Today, millions of gravel fill the crawlerway and they’re designed to stay there for several heavy load passes. Understanding things on the micro and macro levels has been our impetus for over 40 years. That gives us a unique perspective and helps us arrive at solutions that are not only relevant to future generations, but in NASA’s case, are quite literally out of this world.