1,2,3...Tilt it!

THE CHALLENGE: Print My Rocket

Design a rocket that could be built in place inside one of the four bays of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center, which is 525 ft (160 m) tall. Utilize additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) where possible, considering which materials might be able to be used and which ones may have to be brought in already manufactured.


Have you ever thought about making something higher than the place it has to pass?

Have you ever imagined a huge rocket that exits from a door smaller than it?

Have you ever imagined to hold up about 3 millions of kilograms using only your knowledge?

We imagined it and we want to try and explain to you this huge idea

Let's start with the VAB!

The VAB stands for VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING and it is at the Kennedy Space Senter in Florida.

The vehicles were assembled on the mobile launch platform (MLP) within the high bays and then a crawler drove underneath the platform to "pick them up" and take them to the launch pad.

VAB is 160 m tall, 218 m wide, 158 m large.

.What are our problems?

VAB has 4 doors, 139 m tall and 12 m large.

The most important problem is to make a rocket higher than the VAB doors that are 139 m high !

You can think that it's not a problem but it's a pity making rockets smaller than we really can!

And how can we do it?

What are the solutions?

We thought about two solutions to make higher rokets than the previous ones:

  • To tilt the rocket!

The weight of a rocket is about 3 millions of kilos but WE CAN TILT IT!

We read about some engines and their names are hydraulic jacks: they can explicate huge forces up to a lot of kN!

Can we hold up our rocket? Yes we can!

We are thinking about making a rocket 145 m high plus 8 metres of crawler and plus 2 metres of basis of the truss structure.

This one has an "L" form but in the middle point between the vertical piece and the horizontal piece there is a hinge that creates a moment that can tilt the rocket and the vertical part of the luss structure.

We did the maths

If we tilt the rocket of 29 degrees, the height of the whole structure with the crawler is 138 m comparing to 139 m of the door!

This method can be applied for every rocket that is higher than the VAB door and we can make it only in the VAB and not outside of it.

By making a balance of the forces and the momentum, considering that the tilt part weight is 3300000 kg, we have to use 10 hydraulic jacks to hold up this huge mass.

The jacks can be only on the back of the mass or can be divided between the front and the back.

  • A software that surveys the maneuver

And if you are not sure we made a software that tells us if everything is alright.

It tells us if we have to tilt the rocket more or if we got the perfect inclination to get out of the VAB.

How does it work?

The software calculates the distance between the rocket and the exit of the VAB step by step.

If the rocket is not tilted enought to go through the door safely, the software sends a warning message and allows the operators to correct the maneuver

Made inNapoli Italy
from the minds of