Steel Tower Will Give Astronauts Access to Rockets

A crane lifts the fourth steel tier for placement at Space Launch Complex-41 to form the Crew Access Tower under construction by Boeing and United Launch Alliance. (Photo: NASA/Jim Grossmann)


A 200-ft, 20-story steel tower is rising at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Crew Access Tower will give astronauts and support teams access to board rockets to be launched for flight tests and missions to the International Space Station. It’s being built in seven pieces prefabricated by Steel, LLC, Scottdale, Ga. (an AISC Member/Certified fabricator), then stacked atop each other to form the tower complete with an elevator, communications and power infrastructure, and an escape system.

Construction crews will face all the usual challenges of building a tall structure beside the ocean, plus the fact that one of the busiest launchers in the American catalog is not going to take time off during the construction phase. Boeing and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) designed the structure to be made modular so crews could build large sections of the structure away from the Atlas V launch pad already in place, then truck them in and stack them up to complete the work in between launches. It will take about 18 months total to build the tower.

Watch a video by NASA showing the lifting and placement of the first steel tier for the tower at the space launch complex.