4
$\begingroup$

After the AMOS-6 explosion on the pad at SLC-40 in September 2015, SpaceX spent a lot of time rebuilding SLC-40, including a very big update on the TEL (Transporter/Erector/Launcher). Whenever they speak of it (Gwynne Shotwell or on the CRS-13 launch webcast) they mention that the original TEL was built before they ever launched a Falcon 9, and they have since built Vandenberg's SLC-4E, and LC-39A.

Thus they have a lot of experience now on how a TEL should be built.

When they revealed the LC-39A TEL it was very different from the previous looks and was mostly enclosed. But on the CRS-13 launch it because clear that the newest TEL was still a lattice design.

Initially I was wondering why they did not enclose it, but perhaps a better question might be, why was the LC-39A TEL enclosed?

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

The LC-39A TEL is also internally a lattice, just has panels attached to protect it from rocket exhaust.

Unfortunately I can't find the links now, but I recall that there were pictures of LC-39A TEL in the few months/weeks before its first launch, and it lacked the protective panels. They were only attached at the last moment.

We also know that SpaceX continues to iterate on their TEL&GSE. They attached some of the Falcon Heavy hold-down clamps and tail service masts in between Falcon 9 launches.

Therefore, my best guess is that they simply haven't done it yet. They already slated CRS-13 to launch from LC-40, and the panels aren't necessary, so they skipped that part to launch sooner.

Alternative guess: LC-39A was designed for Falcon Heavy which has higher thrust, so that TEL needs additional protection.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ In other words, time will tell. Good answer, thank you. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Dec 19 '17 at 18:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.