ARTEMIS VIDEO UPDATE: NASA Crawler Operations Manager John Giles Talks With Steve Wilson from Under the 6.65 Million Pound Crawler
By Steve Wilson // August 7, 2023
Giles has been at NASA 35 years
WATCH: Steve Wilson recently had the good fortune to talk with NASA’s John Giles, who is the Crawler Element Operations Manager and is a part of the Exploration Ground Systems Program, which supports the Artemis missions. Giles has been at NASA approximately 35 years.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – What do you do if you need to move a 15-million-pound object approximately three miles? If you are NASA, you put it on a crawler-transporter and off it goes!
The combined wight of the SLS rocket and Mobile Launcher 1 is approximately 15 million pounds. The “rolling weight,” which also includes the weight of the crawler, is between 21 – 22 million pounds.
Artemis II and the mobile launcher will be taken from the Vehicle Assembly Building to LC Complex 39B in late 2024 to send the first crewed mission to the moon in over 50 years.
I recently had the good fortune to talk with John Giles, who is the Crawler Element Operations Manager. Giles has been at NASA approximately 35 years, having been in numerous positions, including working with the shuttle program, expendable launches, such as Delta rockets, Titan rockets and Atlas rockets. He currently works in Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) with the Artemis missions.
Giles is involved with the crawler daily. He told me, “We will roll again in a few weeks. We will take the mobile launcher out to the pad for testing for Artemis II.”
Giles said about 30 people are involved when it is moving. He has been in the crawler when it travels at 1.1MPH, but he told me, “When we are taking the mobile launcher and the launch vehicle with us to the pad, our speed is 0.83MPH.”
Giles and the team do an amazing job in keeping it maintained and in good working condition. Most equipment, similar in nature, is designed to last approximately 30 years. Giles said, “Right now our crawler is 58 years old, and we fully intend to get another 20 – 30 years out of it.”
The sheer size of the crawler is stunning. It weighs 6.65 million pounds. Giles told me, “There are 456 shoes on the crawler, each one weighs over one ton.” He went on to say, “We recently received a plaque from the Guinness Book of Records stating the crawler is the heaviest self-powered vehicle in the world.”
I asked Giles if he was excited about the Artemis missions. His face lit up as he said, “Absolutely! I am lucky enough to have grown up on this coast. My father started working at the space center in 1962, so, I am a second-generation space worker.” He said, “For me, this is a way of life,”
John Giles is a prime example of what is right about NASA. He is a caring individual that looks at his employment as more than just a job. As he put it, “This is a way of life.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Steve Wilson was born in DeRidder, Louisiana and grew up in both New Orleans and Macon, Georgia. He moved to Brevard County in 1984 and retired from local government as the Community Advocate/Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Rockledge in 2018.
Among the awards and accolades Steve has received over the years are 15 + year Rockledge Little League volunteer, Brevard Public School Jefferson Award Recipient, Rockledge High School Raider Booster Award 2001, 2006, City of Rockledge Employee of the Year 2006, Rockledge Kiwanian of the Year 2006-2007, City of Rockledge Quality Public Service Award 2008, 2012, 2017, Rockledge Kiwanis Citizen of the Year 2012-2013, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Sportscasting 2015, Rockledge High School Leadership and Service Award 2016, Central Florida Humanitarian Award 2017, Space Coast Inspiration Award – 2018 and Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement – 2020.
Wilson is especially proud of is chairing two fundraisers in support of pediatric cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in honor of Merritt Island resident Julie Spurlock that raised over $25,000.00.
He has been a partner, along with Orville Susong, for the past 24 years with the Friday Night Locker Room, a broadcasting team that covers and reports on a wide variety of local events that are of significance to the residents of the Space Coast and beyond. Their mission is to promote youth sports, support first responders and law enforcement personnel, and showcase community and charitable events that are produced by our nonprofit partners in central Florida.
The Friday Night Locker Room has awarded hundreds of sports achievement plaques to Brevard County student-athletes over the years. They have also awarded more than $18,000 in academic scholarships to Brevard County high school seniors.