NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida has been the departure gate for every American-manned space mission and numerous scientific spacecraft for more than 40 years. Over the years, it has been home to popular ventures such as the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. As the workhorse of the space center, the payload processing facility is an important part of any space operation. One such payload processing facility is the vertical processing facility (VPF), which is currently being demolished by Melbourne, Fla.-based Frank-Lin Excavating Inc., as part of a demolition contract that will take down several structures at KSC.
Speegle Construction II Inc., Cocoa, Fla., is the prime contractor on the project with its president, Lu Anne Willis, directly involved with the project on a daily basis. Sunrise Systems of Brevard Inc., Cocoa, Fla., is the abatement contractor with Vice President Mark Ancona directly supervising the project.
Frank-Lin Excavating is the demolition subcontractor and began work on the $710,000 contract on Jan. 19. In addition to demolition of the VPF, which has hosted many popular assemblies including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, other structures to be demolished include the original mission control building, according to Pete Charamut, president of Frank-Lin Excavating.
“The VPF is the first shuttle-related facility to be demolished,” explained Charamut. “The building was removed from service somewhere in 2006.”
The VPF was designed to accommodate all vertically processed payloads and consists of an environmentally-controlled high bay and airlock and single-story support facilities along the sides of the high bay. Dimensions include a high bay area with a ceiling height of 105 ft. (32 m) and usable floor space measuring 10,153 sq. ft. (914 sq m).
Equipment enters the airlock through a door that is 71 ft. (22 m) tall and 24 ft. (7.3 m) wide. Additionally, access to the high bay from the airlock is through a door that is 71 ft. (22 m) tall and 38 ft. (11.6 m) wide.
The facility also contains two payload workstands with six fixed platforms that provide access to the payloads in the high bay. Two bridge cranes, 25 tons (22.5 t) and 12 tons (10.8 t), were linked in order to provide a lift capability of 35 tons (31.5 t).
“Regardless of where the upper stages are mated to their spacecraft,” Charamut stated, “the entire space shuttle payload is eventually assembled in a single VPF workstand.”
Charamut described the equipment he has gathered on the project site, including a Cat 330 CL excavator with a Genesis LXP-300 processor (shear and concrete cracker) and a Kobelco SK 330 excavator with thumb attachment. Also being used are a Volvo A-25 off-highway truck with a drop-in 4,500 gal. (17,100 L) water tank, a Cat 928 loader with a grapple bucket, and a Bobcat 300 skid steer loader. Another piece of Cat equipment being used is a 321 excavator with thumb attachment.
A Trailstar trailer and a Kenworth W900L truck also are being utilized by Frank-Lin.
Furthermore, Charamut said he has rented a Cat 365 ultra high reach equipped with a Genesis LXP-200 shear attachment from Kuhn Equipment Sales, Summerville, S.C. Frank-Lin has been doing business with Kuhn since 2007.
“This was the only high reach that had the ability to complete our project,” said Charamut. “This machine gave us the ability to reach 125 feet, so we could remove the roof sections and mechanical rooms located on top of the roof.”
Once demolished, the construction and demolition material will go to KSC’s landfill.
“We have a very good material diversion program that allows us to minimize the impact on the landfill,” Charamut said.
He expects there to be less than 600 tons (540 t) of construction and demolition material that will actually go to the landfill.
“Our diversion program on a commercial facility like the VPF will keep us in the 85 percent recycled range,” he stated.
What’s more, the concrete will be downsized and hauled to the KSC diverted aggregate recycled concrete yard while ferrous and nonferrous metals will be recycled at Trademark Metals Recycling LLC, which has numerous locations in Florida.
“There is approximately 800 tons of steel that will be recycled.” Charamut continued. “We anticipate approximately 8,000 tons of concrete will be recycled and reused on future NASA projects.”
Completion of this demolition project is scheduled for mid-June. After that, the site will be sodded and returned to a green area.
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