Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations

URSAM and the Design Contract

On 4 December the contract to design the vertical assembly building, launch control center, and adjacent permanent facilities was awarded to URSAM for $5,494,000. The New York firm had already begun work on the project and proposed to complete it by 23 September 1963. URSAM put a hundred men of its own staff to work on the VAB design and hired an equal number to supplement their efforts. The team of designers produced 2,700 general drawings and a grand total of 18,000 shop detail drawings (one-third of them for the structural steel).10

URSAM divided the project into elements that could be designed individually and placed under contract at early dates. This step resulted in seven different contracts for procurement of equipment and for construction. In chronological order they were: first, preparation of the mobile launcher and crawler erection sites and the barge canal terminus so that the first launcher could be ready as soon as the first high bay in the VAB could receive it; second, foundation work for the VAB, including the piling and floor; third, setting up the structural steel frame for the high and low bays of the vertical assembly building; fourth, procurement of transformers and switching gear for the 69 KV substation; fifth, building of two 250-ton and one 175-ton bridge cranes; sixth, construction of the 69 KV substation; seventh, construction of the VAB, LOC, and utilities. The contracts were scheduled to bring the foundation and the structural steel frame well enough along at the time of awarding the last contracts so that the general contractor could proceed in an orderly manner with the work of completing the facility.11