NASA spends $1 billion for a launch tower that leans, may only be used once

Enlarge / The space agency's mobile launch tower is leaning slightly to the north. (credit: NASA)

On Tuesday and Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to tour facilities there and participate in the second meeting of the National Space Council. It is not clear how much of the launch facilities he will see during his visit to Florida, where NASA is spending billions of dollars to build ground systems for the launch of the Space Launch System rocket.

There is one component of the revamped facilities that NASA may be reluctant to show Pence, who in effect oversees all national spaceflight activities as the head of the space council. This is the "mobile launcher" structure, which supports the testing and servicing of the massive SLS rocket, as well moving it to the launch pad and providing a platform from which it will launch.

According to a new report in NASASpaceflight.com, the expensive tower is "leaning" and "bending." For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper.

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