KWWL Exclusive: Iowa company helps NASA with rocket assembly - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

KWWL Exclusive: Iowa company helps NASA with rocket assembly

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Dozens of Iowans will have a hand in transporting NASA's newest rocket -- one that will eventually take astronauts to Mars.

KWWL received an exclusive tour of Doerfer Companies' Waterloo facility where employees have been working on vehicles that will transport the bottom half of NASA's largest, most powerful rocket ever built.

"They came to us because they were looking all over the world to figure out how they were going to move it," said President of Doerfer Companies Dave Takes.

Takes said his company's vehicles called "transporters" will be used to move the core part of the rocket through the assembly process at NASA's plant located in Michoud, Louisiana.

He said he expects the load to be approximately 27-feet in diameter and 200-feet long.

"NASA can choose technology not just from anywhere in the world, but anywhere in the universe literally. And when they tap you on the shoulder and make you part of their team, it's really a pretty neat feeling," said Takes.

Takes said the transporters are equipped with dozens wheels, all controlled by a radio, making them some of the only zero-turn radius vehicles in the world.

"It's not so much just the wheels, but having multiple wheel modules all working together to be able to steer and also to be able to lift and safely carry the load," explained Wheelift Operations Manager at Doerfer Companies Mick Stiers.

"The real secret to the system is our ability to balance the load among all of the wheels and to keep the load balanced regardless of the ground we're driving over," said Stiers.

Officials with NASA plan to visit Doerfer Companies' Waterloo facility next week.

In January, the transporters will be shipped from Waterloo to the assembly factory in Louisiana where officials will begin assembling the 240-foot rocket core.

"Everybody's going to see this rocket lift off, and we'll know that we were a part of getting that rocket made," said Stiers.

Doerfer Companies frequently works on high profile projects, however, most of the client agreements it has are confidential for security reasons.

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