Old structures torn out of Vehicle Assembly Building

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —

Central Florida's largest building is undergoing one of the biggest remodeling jobs it's ever had in 40 years.

The old structures used for the space shuttle program were torn out of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building on Friday.

The sections NASA removed in the VAB were the old platforms shuttle workers used to get access to different parts of the shuttle, the solid rocket boosters and the external tank when they were all stacked upright inside before a launch.

The sections were built for the Apollo era and modified to fit around the shuttle. Workers used to the platforms to get access to all parts of the shuttles as they were prepared for launch. But the platforms were designed only to fit around shuttles and there's no need for them anymore.

"After the Apollo program those platforms were removed, modified and reinstalled in different locations to support the shuttle program,” said VAB manager Jim Bolton.

However, now that the shuttle program is over, NASA is trying to get the building ready for whatever rocket may come next.

The goal is to put into place a new set of platforms, which can be adjusted, raised, lowered and extended to fit around NASA's new rocket to take astronauts to an asteroid.

"The platforms are designed so that the inserts can be removed and new inserts can be put in for any rocket that is on the drawing board or not yet been developed," said Bolton.

The old platforms are being pulled apart. The useful equipment is being stripped off and the rest will become scrap.

In the end, NASA hopes the remodel makes the vehicle assembly building flexible to handle whatever is launched over the next 40 years.

It will take weeks to get all the old platform segments removed and even more time to install the new ones.   The goal is to have the work completed in time to assemble a rocket in there before 2017.