The Space Launch System rocket that NASA has been building for more than a decade now—and which may finally launch for the first time this spring or summer—is rather big. And big rockets need large, complicated ground systems to fuel them and support their launch.
As one might imagine, for a rocket as expensive as the SLS booster—development so far has run in excess of $20 billion and counting—its associated ground systems are quite costly as well.
Much has already been said and written about the first “mobile launch tower” built for the SLS rocket. The massive, rolling Mobile Launcher-1 supports the 108-meter-tall SLS rocket, provides access to the Orion spacecraft, and supplies power, communications, coolant, and fuel to the rocket. Over a decade, NASA spent about $1 billion to build, redesign, and then complete the structure under a cost-plus contract.
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