Crawler Transporter 2 Upgraded in Preparation for SLS Flights

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Officials from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center rolled out the newly renovated Crawler Transporter 2 (CT-2) on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. The 6.5-million-pound CT-2 will carry a 10.3-million-pound mobile launcher with the 4.4-million-pound Space Launch System (SLS) booster (without liquid propellants), resulting in a massive, 21.2-million-pound vehicle lumbering along to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39B.

For more than two years, NASA’s CT-2 has been undergoing a major overhal in the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Recent work has included preparations to install upgraded components that will enable the crawler to carry the greater loads anticipated with the agency’s new rocket designed to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) for the first time since the early 1970s.

Crawler transporter 2 as seen on Spaceflight Insider

Panorama of the crawler transporter 2. Photo Credit: Bill Jelen/Spaceflight Insider

“We removed and replaced the roller-bearing assemblies,” said Mary Hanna, CT project manager in the Vehicle Integration and Launch Branch of GSDO. “These upgrades are designed to make sure the crawler will support us for another 50 years,” she said. “Many of the older parts were wearing out from years of use.”

732-nasa_crawler transporter_2-bill_jelen

In regards to its sheer size, the crawler-transporter is more like a mobile building than a vehicle. Photo Credit: Bill Jelen / SpaceFlight Insider

The renovations were supported by NASA’s Test and Operations Support Contract by Jacobs Technology Inc., NASA’s Engineering Support Contract by QinetiQ Inc., both at Kennedy, as well as Mammoet Inc. of Houston, and L&H Industrial Inc. of Gillette, Wyo.

“L&H is producing the rollers, shaft assemblies, sleeves and other hardware needed,” Hanna said. “Altogether, that amounted to about a half-million pounds of steel being delivered here at Kennedy.”

Technicians from Jacobs performed the work of removing the crawler treads prior to Mammoet jacking and cribbing the corners. L&H then removed the old roller bearing assemblies and inspected the structure and integrity of openings.

When asked how she felt about working on a project that was such a big part of both space history and future missions, Hanna said, “I’ve been working on the crawler for three years now. It has a great deal of history, from Saturn V to Skylab to Shuttle. It was a very moving experience just to be apart of the final shuttle missions and now to prepare the transporter for the future. It’s mind-boggling to be a part of this.”

“There weren’t many changes needed, but the new assemblies will help the crawler carry the heavier load,” Hanna said. “The newer system will also be better lubricated and that should provide a longer operational life.”

NASA has used the crawler since the 60s during the Apollo Program where the massive Saturn V booster would trundle atop the machines out to Launch Complex 39 where the rocket was used to send crews to the Moon. After decades of use, the crawlers have encountered their fair share of wear.

Crawler Transporter

One corner of the CT-2 is jacked and cribbed for renovation of the crawler tread and roller bearing assemblies. Photo Credit: Sean Costello / SpaceFlight Insider

“When you have that much metal-on-metal carrying such huge loads, there is a tremendous amount of heat and friction,” Hanna said. “That creates much of the wear and tear that we see on the crawlers. The improvements will keep the crawler running for a long time.”

Future modifications to extend the lifetime of CT-2′s systems include upgrades to the jacking, equalization and leveling cylinders. This will increase their load-carrying capacity and reliability.

Other work completed includes replacement of electronics, cables, tubing, hydraulic components, as well as cleaning of fuel tanks and hydraulic systems.

If everything goes according to plan, the crawler-transporters will deliver the first SLS to LC-39B in 2018, where it will conduct its first test flight. During this mission, dubbed Exploration Mission 1 or “EM-1,” SLS will ferry NASA’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on a journey around the Moon. This is in preparation for missions to an asteroid and, one day, the planet Mars.

Story courtesy of Spaceflight Insider:



Living, working and supporting the Gillette community: North by North East

L&H Industrial places importance on giving back to the communities that support them. As L&H President Mike Wandler says in this interview from North by North East (NXNE), “It’s not really about getting credit for those things, it’s about doing the right thing.” 

The company supports multiple charities in the region, from Hospice to the Yes House, and works to stay involved in the community through sports, schools, and supporting local businesses. L&H also attends high school classes and visits technical colleges to talk about the manufacturing industry in order to raise awareness and draw interest into manufacturing, engineering and business careers.

When asked why they stay in Gillette, WY the brothers have a simple answer: it’s home. Jeff Wandler, V.P. & Director of Sales & Marketing quotes his dad, saying: Gillette has always been good to me and never has given me a reason to leave.

As for the future of L&H, the brothers say they count their blessings and that they intend to keep the business in the family. The brothers have nurtured the third generation, as two of their nephews are part of the L&H ownership team and they look forward to what the next 50 years will bring to the company. 




50 years of growth and change at L&H Industrial: North by North East

Members of the ownership team, second generation owners, Mike and Jeff Wandler sat down recently with North by North East (NXNE) to talk about the history of and changes within L&H Industrial.

For the past 50-years, L&H has been focused on mining, but has recently expanded into different markets and is working on new projects all the time, such as newly manufacturing a bucket wheel loader to working on a major dredging machine and various projects for the Northern Alberta oil sands mines.


SKF Conference Wrap Up

Recognized as an innovative, state-of-the-art company focused on solutions, L&H was honored to have been chosen to speak at the Life Cycle Management Conference by Leading Swiss bearing company SKF (Svenska Kullagerfabriken) earlier this month.

L&H Industrial's, Darren Witt, Blasthole Drill Product Line Manager was chosen to present as a featured speaker at the conference.

“Our trackpads for the Pit Viper drills were selected as one of the twelve case study solutions to be presented to directors, managers and other leaders in the mining industry.” said Witt.

After being approached by a customer in Chile regarding failing OEM drill undercarriages, L&H teamed up with the mine and researched what was causing the unplanned outages. The OEM designed trackpads were for very aggressive ground engagement, which resulted in extreme side loads while steering the drill. To counter those effects, L&H designed and manufactured a trackpad with less ground engagement that prevented the wear and unplanned downtime the mine was experiencing and was more accommodating for steering and side movement. L&H worked with the mine through this entire process, coming up with the best and most cost effective solution.

The conference was held October 9th and 10th in Park City, UT and brought together experts in the mining industry for learning opportunities and networking. “As a company focused on customer solutions,” said Witt,” We were proud to have been chosen to participate.”


For the entire presentation on the L&H trackpads, follow the link:



L&H Nominated for Chamber Awards

L&H Industrial is honored to have been nominated for the following awards from the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce:

Chamber Award of Excellence- The Chamber’s Award of Excellence is given to one large and one small business that provide an outstanding product or service in Campbell County. Nominees must employ 25 employees or more as a large business or employ fewer than 25 employees as a small business, and must be an established business in Campbell County.

Spirit of Gillette- The Spirit of Gillette Award is given to a business or individual in Campbell County that makes a difference in the Campbell County community by volunteering its products, services or time. Nominees must go above and beyond to give time and talent to community projects outside of employment of political office and must not have held public office in the last 12 months.

L&H Industrial’s President Mike Wandler was nominated for the Kelly Swenson Business Person of the Year award, which is given to an individual in Campbell County who, just as the first Chamber manager/president Kelly Swenson did, believes in the mission and services that the Chamber provides to the Community. Nominees must be a current business manager/owner who is actively involved in the Chamber and must be a county resident for at least five years with an established business in the community.

Nominees for all of these awards must be an active and involved Chamber member in good standing within the past year.

The Campbell County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Business Awards recognizes and celebrates work, leadership, and progress of all its members with awards nominated and chosen by member business leaders. Recipients of the awards are honored in a ceremony November 7, 2014 at 6PM at the Cam-Plex Energy Hall.

L&H is proud to have received these nominations and we thank our employees, customers and community for your support and this recognition. 

Employee Photo


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