Six absolutely enormous man-made objects, including a barge bigger than an aircraft carrier

Steve LeVine
December 7, 2012

Shell was awarded top-prize in the Total Energy innovation competition on Nov. 29 for the Prelude, pictured above, which will be the largest offshore floating production facility in the world. It measures 74 meters wide and 488 meters long, or more than four soccer fields end to end. When fully loaded with liquefied natural gas, it will weigh six times as much as the largest aircraft carrier and be capable of withstanding a category 5 cyclone.

Given its girth, we wondered what else out there is really, really big. Here are a few that we found.

Cern Particle Accelerator Large-scale collision Cern

When you are banging atomic-size particles into one another, you need something big—like this 16-mile loop with an electromagnet weighing 2,000 tonnes, equivalent to five jumbo jets.

Crane vessel Offshore crane Heerema Marine Contractors

Moving around big stuff offshore requires a crane vessel. This one, called the SSCV Thialf, is the largest ever made, at 201 meters long and 88 meters wide. It can lift 14,200 tonnes in weight.

Excavator Earth-moving Thyssen Krupp

The Krupp Bagger 288, the world’s largest excavator, is made by Thyssen Krupp. It is good for moving around buried stuff such as coal.

Flight simulator Virtual motion NASA

Want to familiarize yourself with the sensation of flying into Space? There is nothing like the world’s largest vertical motion simulator, a three-dimensional, 100-foot-tall contraption at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

Space shuttle transporter Out of the way NASA

Elon Musk may need one of these. But if you, too, need to move your new space rocket, this NASA Crawler is just the thing. It’s based on the same technology that goes into gigantic earth-moving equipment.