That’s me in the 1990s visiting Cape Canaveral, where the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is located. The VAB is the building NASA uses to put together missiles, rockets and the Shuttle to go into space.
The Cape itself is interesting, and I was fascinated by the building. I’m a patriot, I love the United States. I believe it’s the greatest country ever established and it is beautiful and diverse and its principles upon founding were good ones. I love living here and I loved the trip across its land my husband and I took in the ’90s in our VW Camper van. From sea to shining sea, indeed.
So when we got to Florida, both of us being science geeks, we camped at Titusville, a city on the east coast of FL in the region known as the Space Cast. The Space Coast is host to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All of NASA-launched manned spaceflights (running from Project Mercury in 1961 to the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011) departed from either KSC or Cape Canaveral. That area of Florida is beautiful and the museums to attend and US history to be learned there is terrific.
The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is a magnificent monument to man’s determination to achieve, to adventure, and to reach out toward the limits of what we may be able to do and see and build. The facts around the VAB, according to Wikipedia, are as follows:
The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is a building designed to assemble large space vehicles, such as the massive Saturn V and the Space Shuttle. The future Space Launch System (SLS) will also be assembled there.
At 129,428,000 cubic feet it is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume. The building is at Launch Complex 39 at KSC, halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, and due east of Orlando on Merritt Island on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world, was the tallest building in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.
The VAB is 526 feet tall, 716 feet long and 518 feet wide. It covers 8 acres, and encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet of space. The building has at least 10,000 tons of air conditioning equipment, including 125 ventilators on the roof supported by four large air handlers (four cylindrical structures west of the building) to keep moisture under control. Air in the building can be completely replaced every hour. The interior volume of the building is so vast that it has its own weather, including “rain clouds form[ing] below the ceiling on very humid days”
Since the VAB is visible out to sea for miles upon miles and dwarfs the nearby lighthouse, when we lived on our sailboat we used the building as a landmark to guide us in to port. I think it’s amazing that the VAB is so large it generates its own weather system. The engineers of the 1950s and early 1960s who were part of the Space Program at the inception must have been brilliant and admirable men. Someone along the way knew that in order to build rockets there must be a building in which to assemble them, and engineers set about developing the plans to create such a large structure to suit the purpose. It is a tremendous building and it’s used for a tremendous purpose and we Americans have every right to be proud of it.
But it’s nothing. It is all vanity, striving after wind.
In the end time when the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of Revelation occur, the building will be swallowed by hurricanes or tsunamis or some other disaster. Man’s work, this large building, will fall. You want to know something extraordinary? There is another large, square building that exceeds the dimensions even of this fantastic Florida structure. We will live in it, and it is magnificent compared to the VAB, as stunning as that building is. It is called New Jerusalem, and it is at once mansions, a city, and a nation. It is our future home.
The VAB encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet of space. New Jerusalem encloses 3 billion cubic miles. The VAB is 529 feet tall. New Jerusalem is 1,500 miles tall. We are so proud of man’s accomplishment but God’s city is so much larger, more magnificent, so impressive, it stuns the mind.
Here is a map showing the location of the VAB. The dot on the map to which the hand is pointing is NOT representative of its size. As impressive as the VAB is, it is an insignificant, invisible dot on a map of one single state.
Here is a representation of the New Jerusalem compared in size to the landforms underneath it.
Here is a synopsis of the size of New Jerusalem from the website Tour of Heaven. (A biblical tour, not a personal visit!)
Size of New Jerusalem
How large is the city? That varies slightly depending on the version of the Bible. The ESV and NIV versions say it is 12,000 stadia in length and width (Rev. 21:16), where a stadia is 607 feet. This translates to 1,400 miles, which is what the NLT Bible says. However, the KJV and other versions say 12,000 furlongs, which translates to 1,500 miles.
Regardless of whether the city is 1,400 miles or 1,500 miles in length and width, it is shaped like a square at the base. This means New Jerusalem is larger than India with nearly 2 million square miles. These measurements are meant to be literal since they are described as man’s measurements (Rev. 21:17).
Even more astounding than the size at the base is the height that is also at least 1,400 miles (Rev. 21:16). This goes well beyond Earth’s atmosphere and into space. If a building in the city is this high and has a generous 12 feet per story, the building would be over 600,000 stories!
To give you a better idea just how big New Jerusalem is, above are some representations of what it would look like on Earth if the city is shaped like a cube.
Over North America:
If you are 1 mile away from the city, you would not see the top but might if you are 10 miles away. At 5,000 miles away, it would appear more than 130 times larger than the moon. To appear the size of the moon, you would have to be 160,427 miles away.
Because the city is at least 1,400 miles in length, width and height, it could be shaped like a cube or pyramid. Does the height refer to the wall that surrounds the city or the tallest building? Rev. 21:17 says the wall around the city is about 200 feet, but ESV, NASB and KJV bibles don’t specify whether this is the thickness or height. The NIV bible says this is about 200 feet thick, but the footnote says “or high”. A cube-shaped city would make sense in the sense the Most Holy place in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20) was shaped like a cube. However, scripture does not provide a definitive answer as to whether the city is cube or pyramid-shaped.
WOW!! At The Cripplegate, they write about the New Jerusalem too.
Have you ever thought about heaven as a city?
In the apostle John’s account of the new earth in Revelation 21-22, prominent attention is given to the New Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal heaven. Nearly half of Revelation 21 is devoted to describing the physical properties of the magnificent metropolis. Its glorious splendor will be the heart of the new earth, for it is here that God Himself dwells.
According to Revelation 21:15–17, the measurements of the New Jerusalem are immense, approximately 1,500 miles long on each side. By way of illustration, if one corner of the city were placed on Los Angeles, a second corner would sit on Mexico City, a third corner on St. Louis, Missouri, and the final corner on Edmonton, Alberta. If the center of the New Jerusalem rested where the current Jerusalem stands, it would stretch across three continents from Greece to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Libya. The current city of Los Angeles has an area of 468 square miles. The state of California comprises roughly 164,000 square miles. But the New Jerusalem will encompass over 2 million square miles. That is the equivalent of 14 states of California put together; or 4,807 cities of Los Angeles combined.
So the biggest building in the US outside a metropolitan area, a building taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza, is really a fleck of a piece of dust compared to the city of God that Jesus has been preparing.
One more stunning fact from The Cripplegate:
The massive city houses a total volume of more than 3 billion cubic miles. In light of the city’s immensity, some commentators have speculated that the resurrection bodies of the redeemed may not be subject to gravity. If so, the residents of the New Jerusalem would be able to traverse through space not only horizontally, but also vertically, making every part of this glorious cube inhabitable and accessible to the citizens of the New Jerusalem.
I’ve been looking at the dimensions of the New Jerusalem and I have not even mentioned its beauty nor its purpose. Read Revelation 21 and 22 for more information on the city’s dazzling components. When I see the VAB and think of how man thinks he has achieved something, I like to compare to how majestic, big, and creative our God is. The VAB is big, New Jerusalem is bigger. The VAB is impressive, the New Jerusalem is stunningly magnificent. What man can do is fine, what God can do dumbfounds us.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9″For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
FMI on the Vehicle Assembly Building, interior shots and fun stuff, go here.