Crane Rental Corp. Helps NASA’s ’Return to Flight’

Mon July 04, 2005 - Southeast Edition

Crane Rental Corporation is doing its small part to help lift NASA’s shuttle program back into space.

Under a subcontract with Ivey’s Construction of Brevard County, the Orlando-based company has rolled a Manitowoc 2250 crawler crane to launch pad 39A.

The machine, which boasts a 300-ton capacity, is handling some heavy-duty parts of the launch tower.

The bright red machine seems at one with the launch tower, its criss-crossing boom mingling with the tower’s metallic jungle.

Sean Spence, vice president of sales at Crane Rental said the Manitowoc was selected for the job because “it has the best conducive capacity for handling the load.”

Smaller cranes were considered, but he said the 2250 brings with it the safety features needed for the task.

Caption:The Manitowoc 2250 crawler crane will be at the launch pad site until the end of July.

The crane has been at the launch pad since early May, Spence said, and will pull-out at the end of July.

Its tasks there include lifting the 50,000-lb. diversion doors and the 13,000-lb. top mast, known as the candlestick. It also will lift the “white clean room” into place, from which the astronauts enter the shuttle.

Ivey’s duties on the $12-million contract “include a lot of little things,” said President Kevin Ivey. Primarily, the contractor is performing structural repairs and corrosion control.

A NASA contractor for two decades, Ivey also performed work in a $9-million contract for the other launch pad, 39B.

He said the sea salt-laden air really takes a toll on the tower’s metal.

While on the job, Ivey said they happened upon a severely-corroded crane cap that has been on the launch pad since the Apollo era, which they finally removed.

They currently have approximately 25 crewmembers at the site, but once painting begins, that number will likely double.

The efforts are part of NASA’s “Return to Flight” safety measures put in place following the 2003 Columbia disaster. Discovery is scheduled to launch from pad 39B in mid to late July.

The work on 39A should wrap up by January.

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