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The Falcon 9 stages, by themselves, are usually stored on rotisserie style mounts, that allow the stage to be rotated and worked on easily. That is, if the engineer needs access to the top, instead of bringing a ladder or scaffolding over, and possibly dropping something on the stage, they roll the stage till the components are at the bottom.

Here is the mount, on a the Orbcomm stage, in the factory, with the engine install rig (The double ring of metal) being pulled back. Look just north of the engines, there is an aluminum ring around the stage.

Orbcomm stage in the factory

Here you can see three recovered stages with the ring in site and in various states of engine removal.

Three recovered cores, some engines removed

Here is another recovered stage, where you can see the rings at both ends.

F9 flight 21 in LC-39A

Here is a shot where you can see the ring from above.

F9 in hangar

You can see the huge amount of scaffolding they had to deploy for the Shuttle to work in the payload bay, leading to much slower turn around times.

Shuttle Atlantis in processing facility

Endevour in the processing facility

The Saturn V had custom scaffolding in the VAB as well.

Saturn V in VAB

With the Falcon Heavy, at some point they have to attach the three cores. Do they attach the cores on the rotisserie stands, or do they wait, bring in the TEL and assemble them together on the TEL itself?

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  • $\begingroup$ Could you add a photo or at least a link to this alleged rocket-rotisserie? I can't picture it or how it works from your short description. It sounds interesting! These worked great for example! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 24 '17 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh There is not much to see. It is the rings at either end, that allow it to rotate. Ok, so a rotiserie typically impales the chicken down the center. In this case, it is a ring at both ends, that allows rotation. I will see if I can find an example photo. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Dec 25 '17 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ Oh this is much better! Smart people would remember that F9's are generally laying horizontally, so "top" would refer to the side of the rocket currently facing up. Alas, since I'm not, and since I grew up in the Saturn V era, I keep defaulting back to vertical when not actually looking at a photo of a horizontal rocket. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 25 '17 at 4:12
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Elon Musk tweeted photos of the connected cores, in the HIF, and at the same time, the TEL was still reportadly on the launch pad. Since there is but a single TEL it is obviously NOT assembled initially on the TEL.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a moment I'm dying to see sometime - the integrated vehicle being lofted while the TEL drives in beneath it. $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Jan 3 '18 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Saiboogu I am surprised we have never seen video of that for a Falcon 9 yet either. But would be cool with a heavy! $\endgroup$ – geoffc Jan 3 '18 at 21:18

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