Photos: Atop NASA's Huge Mobile Launch Tower

NASA's Mobile Launch Tower at Pad 39B

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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.

Mobile Launcher and Lightning Tower

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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.

Mobile Launch Tower and Flame Trench

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This shot, looking under the mobile launcher, shows pad 39B's flame trench.

Launchpad 39B's Flame Trench

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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.

NASA Crawler-Transporter

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A look at NASA's crawler-transporter vehicle, which brought the 6.5-million-pound mobile launcher to pad 39B.

Crawler-Transporter Closeup

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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.

Crawler-Transporter Treads

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An up-close look at the crawler-transporter's treads, and the crushed ground the huge vehicle leaves in its wake.

Looking Up at the Mobile Launcher

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A view straight up the side of the 355-foot-high tower, from near its base.

Looking South from Atop NASA's Mobile Launcher

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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 Mobile Launcher's Top

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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.

View to the North From Mobile Launcher's Top

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A maze of wetlands surrounds Kennedy Space Center, as this view looking to the north shows.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.