Episode 152: How Do You Move a Rocket?

Meet the Expert: Dan Zapata, Crawler Systems Engineer, Exploration Ground Systems Kennedy Space Center

Dan Zapata

Dan Zapata is a crawler systems engineer for the Exploration Ground Systems Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One of seven certified drivers for the agency’s crawler transporters –six-million-pound platforms that carry rockets and spacecraft from Kennedy’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad – Zapata is part of the team that will take NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to Launch Complex 39B for the Artemis I launch. Artemis I is the first in an increasingly complex series of missions that will ultimately send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon, paving the way for long-term presence in lunar orbit and serving as a steppingstone for future missions to Mars.


What is the Crawler-Transporter? 

From NASA’s website:

“A pair of behemoth machines called crawler-trans­porters have carried the load of taking rockets and spacecraft to the launch pad for more than 50 years at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Each the size of a baseball infield and powered by locomotive and large electrical power generator en­gines, the crawler-transporters stand ready to keep up the work for the next generation of launch vehicles to lift astronauts into space.

The crawlers are unique in the world, having been built in 1965 to move the massive Saturn V rocket from Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39. After the Moon landing and Skylab programs ended, the crawlers continued their work, taking space shuttles to their launch pads for 30 years.

With the shuttle fleet retired in 2011, the crawlers are envisioned as critical elements of future launch operations at Kennedy. Crawler-Transporter 2 will be integral to the Artemis program, sending the first woman and the next man to the Moon.”

NASA KSC crawler-transporter


Take a look at some more awesome pics and videos of the crawler-transporter from NASA   HERE


Want to see Dan driving the Crawler-Transporter? Click on the video below!





Challenge: Calculate how fast the crawler-transporter moves with this math challenge –>  You are 4 miles from the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Bldg), if you move 1/2 mile and hour, how long will it take you to get back to the VAB?

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Space Exploration for Kids book


Featured Book for this Episode!

Space Exploration for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Astronauts, Rockets, and Life in Zero Gravity by Bruce Betts PhD







Book List: 

Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson

Spacecare: A Kid’s Guide to Surviving Space by Jennifer Swanson

The Ultimate Book of Space  by Anne-Sophie Baumann (Author), Olivier Latyck (Illustrator)

How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure by John Rocco

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