Tech - News
The Real Reason NASA Has Its Own Railroad
In 1963, the Florida East Coast Railway built a 7.5-mile connection to the Kennedy Space Center that joined the 28 miles of NASA-constructed track at Wilson's Corners junction. The resulting industrial line was dubbed "The NASA Railroad.”
Twenty years later, NASA bought the Florida East Coast portion of the railroad because the hazardous materials hauled over it for the space shuttle required a rebuild and upgrade of the entire line. It also replaced the World War II era Alco S2 locomotives with three EMD SW-1500 locomotives.
The rebuild and engine upgrades allowed NASA to move heavier loads at faster speeds, with most of the traffic on the NASA Railroad comprising segment cars that carried solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle. After the final booster segments were shipped in 2010, the use of the railroad diminished.
A few years ago, the "rocket railroad" came back to life, albeit briefly. On June 15, 2020, 10 rocket booster segments arrived by train from the Northrop Grumman plant. The 10-day, 2,800-mile trip carried the booster segments destined to be used for the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.