So Big You Can See It from Space

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This is a revisit of an old blog post from PopSci:

VAB album on Imgur:

Want totally unrelated content? I stream in Twitch Monday and Thursday at 6pm Pacific an Sunday at 8am Pacific:

Music: Sneaky Adventure by Kevin MacLeod (

Dress: Was my grandmother’s in the 1960s.

  1. Richard Rothery

    i subsribed PURELY on her initial demonstration of “Massive Rocket”

  2. Waylon McCann

    Hey Amy, great video! Will they ever replace the main building for you figure? I would imagine eventually it won’t be able to be refurbished any further. I wonder how long it has left in it’s bones.

  3. Ruskaga

    Love the channel! Watching the videos got me thinking of an old book I had on my shelf. When I was twelve, my parents had bought me a book called The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology. It was printed in 1982 and I remember being fascinated by the wild concepts being proposed at the time, like giant SPSS solar power stations, heavy-lift vehicles using multiple shuttles (which would have been totally ludicrous), orbital fuel transfer stations from LEO to lunar orbit, space tugs, space cities, etc. I also remembered one blurb about a Soviet craft that always had me curious and dug this gem out from the “Space Diary” at the very end of the book:


    Anatoly Skirpko, Science and Technology attache’, Soviet Embassy Washington D.C. informs American Astronautical Society that USSR may begin development of space shuttle-type vehicle in about five years to support long-duration space station operations. The USSR had not urgently pressed for development of a shuttle because “it is no problem for us now to deliver fuel, food, or other supplies” to space stations by using large boosters and Progress supply craft. Major interest surrounds concept of horizontal launching with full recovery of flight vehicles. Aim to reduce payload cost to a level one-tenth that of US Space Shuttle, i.e. 20-25 roubles per kg (about $30-37.5) Project will be openly discussed in two to three years, first flight expected 1987. Perhaps Vladimir Shatalov best expresses the philosophy “The horizontal of aircraft start,” he said, is definitely preferred for a re-usable spacecraft, and we are taking this standpoint. However, the Americans chose a useful and less costly alternative, namely a vertical rocket start which has the advantage that it can carry along a greater load each time. The design has undeniable advantages as well as disadvantages. We prefer the more advanced second shuttle which proceeds from a horizontal launching device. This gives the further advantage that the device can start from any airfield in the Soviet Union equipped for this purpose: this makes the system more flexible in mission operations.”

    The blurb is accompanied by an illustration that seems to show something like the X-20 sitting atop a Proton rocket, with the following caption:

    “Charles Vick’s drawing of a possible Kosmolyot testbed: the operational vehicle may take off horizontally.”

    Looking back, the notion of launching a Proton horizontally is just ludicrous, but it goes to show how our thoughts about the craft were wildly off from what would eventually become the Buran. I know you’re not into the Shuttle era, but what I found fascinating was not so much the shuttle but the wild flux of concepts that were being tossed around at the time (like the Beam Builder, which was actually built) and the overall fog at the time, as we really had little idea what the Russian space agency was up to. We didn’t even know the name of their moon rocket, and called it the G-1 until we knew better.

  4. Perry the Platypus

    Love your space related videos and your twitch streams playing Mario mods!! You’re just a fun person overall, which is why I recently subscribed. Keep up the great work.

  5. JPhilB

    I have a feeling that Amy knows the “right” people.

  6. Crazy Brit - Nasa Fan

    Awesome and fascinating info Amy. Many thanks. And I cen certainly endorse the “Breaking the chains” book. Read it twice now. It is brilliantly written and very informative.

  7. Elric the Bald

    To add a sense of scale: The star field in the American flag painted on the side of the VAB is the size of a basketball court.

  8. Dave Goldspink

    Absolutely brilliant little video. As much as I’m not a space fan I’ve always been a fan of the Saturn 5, Apollo missions and the VAB building itself. Watched the Apollo 11 moon landing as a kid and always found it very interesting. Have never seen much on the VAB but if I ever got the chance to go to the US a visit there would be top of my list. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Apoapsis

    I did the typical tourist bus tour of KSC back when the shuttles were still flying. Would have liked to see the Assembly Building a bit closer. I can’t remember for sure if there was a shuttle on the pad at the time of the tour. This was before digital cameras were common so I don’t have any really good picture. Not sure if I have film photos somewhere.

  10. Tim Peterson

    I wonder if the committee had the foresight put any consideration to the fact that Cape Canaveral’s easterly safe launch direction and low latitude made it easier to get to orbit or if that was kind of a happy accident

  11. BC Drummer

    Hi Amy I love the channel! May I suggest a minor production tweak you might want to consider when using this host position? That floor lamp is really nice, and it provides really nice side lighting. I think if you reduced that floor lamps brightness by getting lower wattage bulbs (or if it is a 3 way light then just turn it down a notch lol) you will still get that nice side lighting while the lamp itself would look better and the reflection of it would be a bit less.

    Totally mean to be constructive here – it’s only because I do like and respect your channel that I make this suggestion. Cheers!

  12. Mode1Charlie

    Can you do one of these videos on the construction of all of the important structures ie test stands, assembly buildings….etc

  13. Stan Kakol

    Amy, I really enjoy your videos. I have been following you for years.

  14. Dennis Thompson

    Got to take the KSC tour before the first Shuttle launch ( It was stacked on the pad, may have been a test stack ) and the JSC tour in the 1990’s. so cool

  15. Mic_Glow

    I see a tiny problem with metric in english speaking countries.
    “it is a ton” can mean both 1000kg and any arbitrary amount. I guess you can say “metric ton” to be more precise (also sounds more sci-fi) but for me it sounds just weird. For me a ton is exclusively an unit of mass so metric ton sounds a bit like buttery butter

  16. Ed Clinton

    I’ve been on the roof of the VAB, around 1982. It was quite a view.

  17. James Grinder

    In 1970, I took a guided tour of KSP. I remember standing inside this building and the tour guide saying something to the effect that 2 Yankee Stadiums and the Empire State Building would fit inside this place with about 1 hundred acres left over. My 12 year old mind could not and still does noes not fathom this. Maybe he was talking about square footage. Is my memory faulty here?

  18. Ricky Rodriguez

    Amy, you and your books are such a treat.

  19. prospectnyc

    I worked in one of the adjacent buildings to the VAB. I miss it so much!

  20. zer0dahero

    Amy, you are awesome but… the statement “visible from space” is often a very disappointing and misleading statement because it falsely implies visible with the unaided eye. No astronaut on the ISS has ever said they could look out the window and see a single building from there. If you need special optics with image magnification, and enhancement, to see an object from space, you CANNOT (and must NOT) say it is visible from space. Can we stop saying “visible from space” without the proper context, please?

  21. Richard Geering

    Did the Woomera testing range in the Australian outback contribute to the Apollo space program? I know they tested lots of stuff there because the test teams could drive out an pick up the rockets, the range being 1000km long.

  22. Aerial Arboreal

    I remember reading about the VAB having it’s own weather conditions, such as clouds forming at the top with actual rain coming down, because it’s so tall and it’s rather empty inside… Is this right or was I hoaxed??? lol

  23. Alec The Sceptic

    Great video packed with history and information. Hey why not do a history of the mobile launch platform? I have always wanted to know it’s development all the way to the shuttle era and where is it today.

  24. ikichullo

    You should wear clothes from the time period you’re talking about. That would be awesome.

  25. Stormheart911

    I’ve always wondered if birds flying in and out through those massive hanger doors ever created a safety concern for the engineers? I would think that animal waste and high tech electronics wouldn’t be a good match.

  26. Tuning3434

    That episode where Amy flexes on us scrubs on the fact she knows the ‘right people’.

  27. Randall Porter

    Got to go inside when they were offering tours. I never ever thought I would go inside that beast of a building. When i did I started laughing and could not stop. The one thing I did notice was how dirty the place was. Oh well.

  28. Lantern's Own

    Cool! I never thought about how important the Vechicle Assembly Building was Thank You Amy.

  29. Mike's Tropical Tech

    Thanks for the history Amy, I rolled past the VAB in the tour bus 4 days ago.

  30. BlackheartCharlie

    Great video – thank you! Not only can you see the VAB from space, but its height makes it an amazing sight from out on the water. I’m an offshore sailor and, while headed south down the coast of Florida, am always amazed at how far away we can see the VAB. One one clear day, we were able to see it peeking above the horizon from almost 12 miles away.

  31. Sgt Mjr

    Each piece of the Apollo spacecraft was manufactured by separate contractors in different US Senate and Congressional districts for continued NASA funding support.

  32. Francis Pitts

    I can see the rockets launch from my ranch in central Florida. It always fascinates me seeing them go up. I have a telescope setup and tracking system so I can watch up close. It’s amazing to see details.

  33. falloutpictures

    I was lucky enough to get a tour from a professor knew, I got to see things that most people wouldn’t get to see and the vab was pretty much gutted out in preparation for the sls retool. I didn’t get to go to the roof, but did get close and personal with Atlantis before it moved into its permanent home.

  34. Richard Mercer

    A *GREAT* video! Everyone who cruises from Port Canaveral sees this building, but I sometimes wonder how many realize what they’re looking at.

  35. Don Cely

    I’ll never forget touring with my Dad in 1970. He died not long after, but we got to see so much, including a Saturn IV on the launch pad. One thing I remember was how they loved telling us the VAB was the only building in the world that had “weather” inside…

    Years later, my dear ex-wife and I just happened to drive down to Florida for a few days because it was FREEZING all over the southeast. SUre enough, we finally made it down to Melbourne, FL to stay the night and visit the Space Center the next day. We pretty much did the same tour as my Dad and I had done all those years before. After seeing the launch pad, now with a shuttle waiting for its mission, we were escorted into the Apollo Control Room. The memories of my Dad flooded back just as the tour guide announced our’s was the last tour ever for that room as it was being torn down and replaced with something else. It was a great feeling to be showing my wife something my Dad and I had shared all those years before.

    Thanks for your terrific videos!

  36. Radio Active

    Another EXCELLENT video by Amy!

  37. Boot Wheel Wing and Keel

    I’ve heard Vertical Assembly Building and Vehicle Assembly Building used back and fort so many times I always was unsure which was right. Thanks for answering that for me.

  38. Brian Kruse

    I remember it was called the vertical assembly building

  39. Jared Frankle

    Have a new respect for the VAB now that I work in it. The people that built it also didn’t skimp on the asbestos 🤣. I’ve done some exploring inside and found neat stuff in some of the abandoned offices such as a SSME engine controller and a crate full of foam posters of shuttle mission astronaut group photos.

  40. John Verne

    Neat. Tasty little video. I even learned something.

  41. Paul D

    I don’t recall the year offhand but like others commenting below, I was able to tour the VAB. I found the view from up high to be impressive.

    Congratulations to you Amy for getting to see the girder and the view from the roof. Something I haven’t been able to do,……yet. ;-)

  42. tomnwoo

    I love your videos, I only wish they were more frequent.

  43. Gary McAleer

    I’ve been waiting for your new post. You’re a rare babe. So, I’m certain men, young and old alike want to be your suiters. Hahaha… I don’t blame them. I know you don’t either. We each have our assigned work in life. And you chose a good one! :^) All the best with the upcoming holidays. My days are limited now, so you don’t have to worry about me hounding you for marriage. :^)

  44. Jonathan Camp

    I got to go there once. I wasn’t allowed inside of the VAB, but I did get to watch the shuttle launch! I took the tour and was allowed sole access to the hanger with Apollo 20’s LM inside of it. I was a licensed pilot at the time and rented a Cessna from a nearby airfield. The Kennedy approach control allowed me to do a flyover of the Shuttle landing facility there. I wasn’t allowed to touch down, but I did do a 500-foot flyover of the runway there.
    Great video, Amy.

  45. Tom Shafer

    Thanks for the clarification on the VAB’s name, Amy. I remember as a child in the 60s referring to ‘Vertical Assembly Building’ and was wondering if I had learned it incorrectly. Your detail on the 1965 rename to ‘Vehicle Assembly Building’ cleared that up for me.

  46. Puffycheeks

    I think I can hear Pete in this video. Also what a great topic, the building is epic.

  47. timpgod

    Love this, and I love your way of sharing this info.
    Would love more on this infrastructure and more details. :)

  48. Antonio Maglione

    Thank you Ms. Teitel for this.
    For how much of a lover of Space science and history I can be, I never knew most of the details regarding the construction of the VAB – that you have outlined in the video.

  49. Erik Granqvist

    I can almost hear the meeting deciding to go to Cape Carneval: “those for moving permanently to somewhere cold and wet? No one? Those who want to move to Florida, raise your hands?” “Well, that was not as close as I thought it would be”.

  50. Paul Marshall

    I look forward to your videos!! Keeping space history alive is a wonderful thing. Thanks!! Cheers!!

  51. jo albanese

    Thank you Amy for another knowledgable and entertaining look at this era. My father worked at the VAB during this time, for Grumman on the Lunar Module. I remember as a kid there were times when workers were allowed to bring their families to work and we got a first hand look at the facility. I remember hearing stories that the building was so massive, that it had its own weather inside, at times the humidity forming its own clouds and would sometimes rain inside the building. A truly remarkable facility. Thank you again. Steven Albanese.

  52. Robin S

    Fritz Lang’s 1929 movie, “Frau im Mond” (Woman in the Moon) had it’s Moon rocket assembled in a VAB then transported to the launch pad. A 17 year old Wernher von Braun would have seen this and been inspired.

  53. Ricardo Góis

    The fact of sound resistance and the distance of launch pad from the building is really interesting depth detail. The photos from rooftop towards the traik look like the building had that continuous size and shelter protection without having it. The music short for transition in the video is roomy and involving, great great great choice there. Artistic composition all and all in one video. Trully amazing. Thank you

  54. m b

    And,Yet AGAIN Amy has showed me several new things to learn about the VAB. Bravo ! (VERY cool you got the access to explore the VAB Amy. ;) I am a bit jealous now ! )

  55. Albert Batfinder

    The Vintage Space is good historical journalism, well presented. Amy is a star. It’s as simple as that.

  56. Moose Thompson

    I knew nothing of the history of the VAB before this video. Thank you! I particularly liked the proposal design sketch of the rocket being ported to the launch site on a barge with the launch tower onboard.
    The orange color on your outfit seems to fit with the “all things mid-century” theme. I do look forward to the day when you talk about your other mid-century interests. Loved your books by the way.

  57. mumblbee bee

    Thank you Amy, this was a lovely appetiser! Now I want to see a 90min documentary solely focussing on the building design and use. _snaps fingers_ …. Bother, out if magic again!

  58. eddyrennick

    Thank You!! I’m 62 yrs old and grew up very limited in resources with regards to our U.S. space program. I enjoy and appreciate VINTAGE SPACE so much!!

  59. TheHylianBatman

    Man, this makes me want a load more detail on the construction part of it. Little quirks and facts and such.

  60. The Sneezing Picture

    This was fascinating, but I’m commenting to show appreciation that Amy is studious enough to credit herself for her own photos.

  61. Mike Lafferty

    Awesome video Amy – just ordered Breaking the chains…can’t wait.

  62. Musicman81Indy

    That was absolutely fascinating…..and YOU, Amy, are absolutely AWESOME. Thank you.

  63. James Frangione

    Great job, Amy! Love this channel. Love your work! Love your passion! Looking forward to your next installment. ✌️❤️🚀

  64. John Reiher

    I was there when they were still assembling Skylab back in the 70s. It was impressive. It’s the worlds tallest one story building. (And yes, there are smaller rooms and stuff, but the main assembly area is one room.)

  65. MrJackHackney

    I tried scanning the barcodes on your dress for space flight secrets! My Dad signed off on a mini VAB building in Valley Forge GE Space Systems back in the early 60’s. He had top secret clearance and secret stuff happened there. He had a MOL ;)

  66. Emperor Xander

    Amy, you’re so beautiful and a great teacher. A wonderful combination :)

  67. Daniel Wilson

    Excellent run-down, and *perfect* choice of music. I could practically _hear_ the odd sucking click sound of parts joining while maintenance vehicles hoon around on the floor below.

  68. INDY Dan

    As a young kid of twelve years ago my brother and I witnessed the launch of Apollo 11.. A few days before that we were able to take a tour of the VAB.. Now as a sixty-five year old I still consider this the most amazing thing I have ever seen..

  69. Michael Tennes

    Fueled and ready to go? I don’t think they’re even consider transporting a fueled rocket like the Saturn V.

  70. 6omega2

    Girl you are so awesome. Brilliant AND beautiful. And I love that you know how to pronounce “missile” correctly!

  71. Bee Sod

    Much appreciated, ty for all your top shelf content.

  72. Francois Lacombe

    The VAB is so large that without its climate control system it would develop its own weather, with clouds, wind and rain.

  73. The1roygbiv

    Fantastic! Enjoy your channel. The story of the VAB was very interesting, how about in a future video you do the same for the roadway out to the two launch pads and them as well. I have some remembrance of the road and launch pad being built, read about them in magazines in the early sixties.

  74. Brett Cooper

    Always heard as a kid that the building has its own weather

  75. Steven Auman

    Preach it space momma . I love this channel.

  76. FlyingSavannahs

    There is an excellent book called simply “Moonport” that extensively describes the Appllo site selection process and details of KSC’s configuration and construction. Highly recommended. ★★★★★

    Pete sounding @6:15.😻


  77. FlyingSavannahs

    Of all the locations at KSC I worked around when upgrading the weather instrumentation at CCAFS and KSC in the 90s, and special tours including a pad tour of STS-93 😻🎉, I never got into the VAB.😭 It did a good bit of rattling during Shuttle launches.

    You forgot to mention reason 3 for why White Sands Missile Range was chosen. The New Mexican food in Las Cruces is second to none!

    Pete sounding @4:15! 😻

    Super job, Amy!
    Sorry for getting into your politics.

  78. Tom Gidden

    I was lucky enough to get “Up Close” tour tickets of LC-39 in November 2011 before they sold out, and we got to see Endeavour up close in VAB High Bay 4 (I think), before it was shipped off to a farm upstate to run around and play with all the other shuttles. Apparently it was a short window between the end of the program (before which public tours of VAB weren’t permitted for safety since the seventies) and all the orbiters leaving LC-39 forever.

    Just a few metres away from the nose, in that hallowed building was something I won’t forget. It seemed smaller than expected, but just about anything bar a Saturn V or SLS will seem small in that place.

    The previous year, we saw (at a distance) Discovery stacked up on LC-39A for STS-133, but unfortunately our one opportunity to see a shuttle launch was scuppered when they found cracks in the tank insulation… fair enough, though!

  79. smart451cab

    I took several KSC tours during the Apollo era. Before the STS, KSC tours took us up to and even INSIDE the VAB. It was explained to me on a Shuttle era tour that this was no longer possible due to the presence of the SRBs.
    I’m glad the entire space program lies within my memory, even though that means I’m an old fart who may not live to see humans on Mars. Hurry up, folks!

  80. Mr Smith

    I just love all this vintage space stuff – super nostalgic. I never knew any of this about the massive assembly building. Amy sure does research thoroughly & gives a wonderfully engaging & concise presentation. Space historian par excellance.

  81. rodger Rodger

    I went to Liverpool to see where the Beatles lived. I went to the Johnson Space flight center. We went to the Kennedy Space flight center. I can die in peace. It’s so tall it has its own weather inside. Thanks Amy for another adventure.
    I hope you and Pete are doing well!

  82. Caroline Tyler RC

    Super video Amy, though the V2 was transported horizontally to the launch stand and erected shortly before launch.

  83. Ryan Allen

    The VAB music from Kerbal is an amazing touch :D

  84. Alex Landherr

    I remember being there on the tour in 2017, still staggered by the size. Also cool seeing the old crawler supports for the Shuttle being dismantled.

  85. bodeans59

    I am proud to say that I toured the VAB in spring of 1969 and saw in person the assembling of the Apollo 11 Saturn rocket.

  86. Niel Malan

    I think you hit the vintage note just right! I’m just a month younger than the moon landing, and I know mother would have worn dresses just like yours.

  87. wilgarcia1

    Very cool. I wonder if they put the space shuttles together in the same place.

  88. Damon Ried

    I guess I’m showing my age (60) but I was admiring your dress and was tickled to discover that it was your grandmother’s from the ‘60’s. She had good taste.

  89. Bob Blum

    Amy, thank you for pinpointing when in time the VAB was renamed from _Vertical_ Assembly Building to _Vehicle._ I grew up during that era and remember calling it Vehicle Assembly Building, then getting confused when both terms were used. The tidbit of information never bothered me enough to look it up, but knowing is better.

    Kind of like “Gem-in-EYE” versus “Gem-in-EE”, which I know you’ve addressed elsewhere!

  90. Rick Wiley

    Back in the early 70s my Dad and I were able to visit inside of the Assembly building on a tour. Quite the memory!

  91. Trafficsnitch

    Just love your videos Amy. Best wishes from the UK.

  92. Scott G.

    Love, love, LOVE this channel and your presentation style!

  93. Myztkl-Kev

    I love that KSP used royalty free music in the assembly building so that you could set the mood in this video with the same music.

  94. geminischweiz

    you are absolutely wonderful, lovely and simply perfect. thanks for everything.

  95. subliminalvibes

    I’m looking forward to Amy’s Halloween fashion.

  96. Holly Brereton

    Yeah Amy posted a cool new video on my Birthday, thank you hun x

  97. xWood4000

    The background music fits :) I know another VAB that had that music

  98. Jim and Dawn Cutler

    Amy your knowledge and love of the space program is great. We love your two books and your superb storytelling. If you ever feel down please re-read these sentences.

  99. Darwimm

    I have the urge to watch “Apollo 11” on Netflix again, don’t know why 😆 😆 😆

  100. Kilgore Trout

    Hi, Amy! So glad you stood for what you wanted. As far as i am concerned, it is a much more interesting channel. i am a real nerd for what the future looked like from that era.

Comments are closed.