Vehicle Assembly Building, John F. Kennedy Space Center
Merritt Island, Florida
Completed in 1966, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is a NASA facility located at Launch Complex 39 at John F. Kennedy Space Center. Enclosing nearly 130 million cubic feet and boasting at least 10,000 tons of air conditioning equipment, the building sometimes experiences its own weather, with rain clouds forming below the ceiling on very humid days. The VAB was originally designed to allow for the vertical assembly of the massive Saturn V launch vehicle used for Project Apollo. NASA engineers combined the rocket’s three stages within the controlled environment of the facility before transporting the assembled vehicle along the Crawlerway to a launch pad for final assessment and liftoff. From 1981 to 2011, NASA also used the VAB for the Space Shuttle program, similarly assembling the orbiters with their rocket boosters and external fuel tanks in the protected facility before moving the vehicle to a launch pad. In 2014, NASA began renovations on the VAB to accommodate use by the Space Launch System and the Orion spacecraft. A year later, NASA solicited proposals for commercial use of VAB High Bay 2.