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Looking across the river through the haze, we can see the Vehicle (sometimes “Vertical”) Assembly Building, which houses one of the largest indoor spaces in the world. Originally built to stack Saturn V rockets, the VAB is now used to stack the two Solid Rocket Boosters for each Shuttle mission, and then attach them to the external fuel tank and to the orbiter itself. The external tank is delivered by barge from the assembly plant in New Orleans where they are made to a receiving basin next to the VAB. (Unlike the Solid Rocket Boosters, the ET was not designed to be reused, and is dumped unrecoverably into the Pacific Ocean shortly after the Shuttle's main engines are shut off.)
Copyright 2011, Garrett Wollman. All rights reserved. Photograph taken 2011-02-24.