NASA's $500 million mobile launch tower sits on pad 39B at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, where it moved in mid-November to undergo two weeks of structural tests. The tower will support NASA's huge Space Launch System rocket — which is due to make its first test flight in 2017 — and perhaps other launch vehicles as well.
The mobile launcher is 355 feet tall and sits atop a steel base that itself rises 47 feet from the ground. The white-topped structure in the background is a lightning tower.
This shot, looking under the mobile launcher, shows pad 39B's flame trench.
Another view of pad 39B's flame trench, this time looking south. The huge crawler-transporter that brought the mobile launcher to the pad is visible in the background.
A look at NASA's crawler-transporter vehicle, which brought the 6.5-million-pound mobile launcher to pad 39B.
A closeup shot of the crawler-transporter's front end. These massive vehicles were also used to carry NASA's space shuttles to launchpads 39A and 39B.
An up-close look at the crawler-transporter's treads, and the crushed ground the huge vehicle leaves in its wake.
A view straight up the side of the 355-foot-high tower, from near its base.
The view to the south from atop NASA's mobile launch tower. The crawler-transporter and its track are clearly visible, as are several other launchpads off in the distance.
Looking down from the top of the mobile launch tower at pad 39B's flame trench, about 400 feet below. NASA plans to launch its heavy-lift rocket, known as the Space Launch System, from pad 39B. The first test flight for the huge rocket is slated for 2017.
A maze of wetlands surrounds Kennedy Space Center, as this view looking to the north shows.
The sun hangs just above the horizon in this shot. In the foreground is a lightning tower; behind it in the distance is the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building, where Saturn 5 rockets were put together and space shuttle orbiters were mated with their boosters and external fuel tanks.
The setting sun sets the clouds ablaze in this shot, taken from near the base of NASA's mobile launch tower.