40 Years Ago

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40 Years Ago in Building with Steel 1,000,000 tons of steel in America’s spaceport The rapid pace of technological development during the past few years is most apparent in space exploration. The tiny bell shaped Mercury capsules which carried the first American astronauts into space have already been consigned to museums and new generations of spacecraft have taken their place. To send the spacemen off on their long voyages of exploration, the United States has built a new technological wonder – the spaceport on Merrit Island, adjacent to Cape Kennedy. On what was marsh- land only three years ago, the biggest construction, Launch Com- plex 39, has now been completed. To build it NASA embarked on the biggest and most expensive ($1,000,000,000) construction project in history. The spaceport is a vast complex of outsize buildings and mammoth machines fashioned from a million tons of steel and nearly 17 million tons of concrete. Its 80,000 acre site is criss crossed with 100 miles of roads and 22 miles of railways. A force of 10,000 works there, each This view looks upwards inside one of with a part to play in the launching of the astronauts to their far off the work platforms. During assembly the destinations. semi-circular platforms are moved inwards to grip the rocket tightly so that men can The most imposing and unusual feature of Launch Complex 39 is work at many levels simultaneously. the great building where the lunar spaceships are put together and made ready for flight. This is the Vertical Assembly Building, a black and white cube-like structure with three million cubic yards of work 36 NSC July/August 2007


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