NASA’s Pegasus barge is used to ferry the agency’s largest rocket stage in the world, the Space Launch System (SLS), from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to other NASA centers for testing and launches.
A massive, 50′ x 310′ SteelMaster S-Model Quonset hut covers the barge to protect the SLS during transport
Pegasus was designed and built in 1999 to transport the massive tanks of the space shuttles from the Louisiana shore to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida—900 mile journey! It replaced Poseidon and Orion, barges used to carry Saturn rocket stages and hardware for the Apollo Program.
Surprisingly, there are no engines on Pegasus. This is because tugboats or towing vessels are required to move the barge.
In 2011, Pegasus finished its final space shuttle related voyage and is now housed at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
In 2014, Pegasus had to be modified and refurbished since the SLS launch system is over 50 feet taller than the space shuttle tanks and more than 600,000 pounds heavier due to additional equipment.
A 115 foot section of the barge was removed and replaced with a 165 foot section to increase the cargo weight. The barge was also lengthened from 260 feet to 310 feet, longer than a football field.