Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39
Overview
 
Launch Complex 39 is a rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island
Merritt Island, Florida
Merritt Island is a census-designated place in Brevard County, Florida, United States. It is located on the east coast of the state on the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2000 census, the population was 36,090. It is part of the Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, USA. The site and its collection of facilities were originally built for the Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 program, and later modified to support Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

 operations. NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 began modifying LC-39 in 2007 to accommodate Project Constellation
Project Constellation
Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

. name="pad2"> Launches from LC-39 are supervised from the Launch Control Center
Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center is a four-story building located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida used for the supervision of launches from Launch Complex 39. In practice, this means that the LCC handles all American manned space flights...

, located 3 miles (4.8 km) from the launch pads.
Encyclopedia
Launch Complex 39 is a rocket launch site at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island
Merritt Island, Florida
Merritt Island is a census-designated place in Brevard County, Florida, United States. It is located on the east coast of the state on the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2000 census, the population was 36,090. It is part of the Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, USA. The site and its collection of facilities were originally built for the Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 program, and later modified to support Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle program
NASA's Space Shuttle program, officially called Space Transportation System , was the United States government's manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011...

 operations. NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 began modifying LC-39 in 2007 to accommodate Project Constellation
Project Constellation
Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

. name="pad2"> Launches from LC-39 are supervised from the Launch Control Center
Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center is a four-story building located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida used for the supervision of launches from Launch Complex 39. In practice, this means that the LCC handles all American manned space flights...

, located 3 miles (4.8 km) from the launch pads. LC-39 is one of several launch sites that share the Eastern Test Range
Eastern Test Range
The Eastern Range is an American rocket range that supports missile and rocket launches from the two major launch heads located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center. The range has also supported Ariane launches from the Guiana Space Centre as well as providing support...

.

Launch Complex 39 is composed of the two launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building
Vehicle Assembly Building
The Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. It is the fourth largest building in the world by volume...

 (VAB), the Crawlerway
Crawlerway
The Crawlerway is a wide double pathway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It runs between the Vehicle Assembly Building and the two launch pads at Launch Complex 39. It has a length of to Pad 39A and to Pad 39B...

 (the route used by crawler-transporter
Crawler-Transporter
The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. They were originally used to transport the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets during the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs....

s to carry Mobile Launcher Platform
Mobile Launcher Platform
The Mobile Launcher Platform or MLP is one of three two-story structures used by NASA to support the Space Shuttle stack during its transportation from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center as well as serve as the vehicle's launch platform...

s between the VAB and the pads), the Orbiter Processing Facility
Orbiter Processing Facility
An Orbiter Processing Facility was one of three hangars where U.S. space shuttle orbiters underwent maintenance between flights. All three such facilities, OPF-1, OPF-2 and OPF-3, were located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at Launch Complex 39.They were located west of the Vehicle...

 buildings, the Launch Control Center
Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center is a four-story building located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida used for the supervision of launches from Launch Complex 39. In practice, this means that the LCC handles all American manned space flights...

 (which contains the firing rooms), a news facility (famous for the iconic countdown clock seen in television coverage and photos), and various logistical and operational support buildings.

Early years

The first development on this site was in 1890 when a few wealthy graduates of Harvard University purchased the 18000 acres (72.8 km²) property for one dollar per acre. Very nearly on the site of 39A they constructed a three-story mahogany clubhouse with twenty rooms for members and guests. The club featured a large dining room, wine cellar, trophy room and plenty of storage for arms and ammunition. Atop the lodge, there was a spectacular view of both ocean and wildlife that flocked to the surrounding marsh. During the 1920s, P. E. Studebaker, son of the automobile magnate, built a small casino at De Soto Beach eight miles (13 km) north of the Canaveral lighthouse to lure buyers to the site where plans were being developed for an elaborate resort city, complete with water, sewer, sidewalks, street lights, and landscaping. Also, the Playa Linda Development Corporation sought buyers to their 'proposed' development of 8,000 lots of 0.25 acres (1,011.7 m²) advertised as the "greatest beach development north of Miami." Prior to the construction of the complex, State Road A1A
Florida State Road A1A
State Road A1A is a Florida State Road that runs mostly along the Atlantic Ocean, with sections from Key West at the southern tip of Florida, to Callahan, just south of Georgia. It is the main road through most oceanfront towns. SR A1A is designated the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Highway, a...

 ran east of the complex. Along this rural ocean road was United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 Station Chester Shoals
Houses of Refuge in Florida
The Houses of Refuge in Florida were a series of stations operated by the United States Life-Saving Service along the coast of Florida to rescue and shelter ship-wrecked sailors. Five houses were constructed on the east coast in 1876, with five more added in 1885...

 built in 1885.

In 1948, the Navy transferred the former Banana River Naval Air Station located south of the Cape Canaveral, to the Air Force for use in testing captured German V-2 rockets. The site's location on the East Florida coast was ideal for this purpose in that launches would be over the ocean, away from populated areas. This site became the Joint Long Range Proving Ground in 1949, and was renamed Patrick Air Force Base
Patrick Air Force Base
Patrick Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base located between Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach, in Brevard County, Florida, United States. It was named in honor of Major General Mason Patrick. An Air Force Space Command base, it is home to the 45th Space Wing...

 in 1950. The Air Force annexed part of Cape Canaveral to the North in 1951, forming the Air Force Missile Test Center, the future Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is an installation of the United States Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing, headquartered at nearby Patrick Air Force Base. Located on Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida, CCAFS is the primary launch head of America's Eastern Range with four launch pads...

 (CCAFS). Missile and rocketry testing and development would take place here through the 1950s.

NASA arrives

NASA was founded in 1958, and the early NASA missions, including the Mercury and Gemini programs, were launched from pads on CCAFS.

In 1961, President Kennedy announced the goal of landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. The announcement of the lunar program led to an expansion of operations from the Cape to the adjacent Merritt Island. NASA began acquisition of land in 1962, taking title to 131 square miles (339.3 km²) by outright purchase and negotiating with the state of Florida for an additional 87 square miles (225.3 km²). In July 1962, the site was named the Launch Operations Center. At the time, the highest numbered launch pad on CCAFS was Launch Complex 37; when the lunar launch complex was designed, it was designated as Launch Complex 39.

Initial design

The initial design of the launch complex contained five pads that were evenly spaced 8700 feet (2,651.8 m) apart to avoid damage in the event of a pad explosion. Three were scheduled for construction (A-C, to the southeast) and two reserved for future use (D and E, west and north). The numbering of the pads at the time was from north to south, with the northernmost being LC39A, and the southern being LC39C. LC39A was never built, and LC39C became LC39A in 1963. With today's numbering, LC39C would be north of LC39B. LC39D would have been due west of LC39C. LC39E would have been due north of the mid-distance between LC39C and LC39D, with LC39E forming the top of a triangle, and equidistant from LC39C and LC39D. The crawler way was built with the additional pads in mind. This is the reason the crawler way turns as it heads to Pad B; continuing straight from that turn would have led to the additional pads. The accompanying map also shows the unbuilt Nuclear Assembly Building (NAB).

Early launches

The pads were first used for launches of the Saturn V rocket for the Project Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 moon missions, and later for Saturn 1B rockets for the Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The original structure of the pads was remodeled for the needs of the Space Shuttle, starting with LC-39A after the last Saturn V launch, which carried Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 in 1973, and in 1977 for LC-39B after the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
-Backup crew:-Crew notes:Jack Swigert had originally been assigned as the command module pilot for the ASTP prime crew, but prior to the official announcement he was removed as punishment for his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp scandal.-Soyuz crew:...

 in 1975. During the Apollo era these were just launchpads - the umbilical/service towers were attached to the launch platform—the only modification made was the so-called "milkstool" which allowed the Saturn IB rocket (for all manned Skylab missions, the unlaunched Skylab Rescue
Skylab Rescue
Brand flew in 1975 during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project as command module pilot, later commanding three Space Shuttle missions . Lind would wait another decade before he flew as a mission specialist on STS-51-B in 1985.-External links:* * * * * * *...

, and ASTP) to use the Saturn V launch tower. For the Shuttle, the pad has a fixed tower (left over from the Apollo-Saturn era) and a rotating service platform, used to protect the Shuttle Orbiter and to install vertically-handled payloads into the payload bay. name="pad3">
Current NASA plans for Project Constellation calls for the reverting of both pads to a state similar to that of the Apollo Program, but with the installation of lightning masts to deflect lightning strikes away from the Ares I and Ares V rockets.

The first use of LC39 came in 1967 with the first Saturn V launch, carrying the unmanned Apollo 4 spacecraft. The second unmanned launch, Apollo 6, also used LC39A. With the exception of Apollo 10, which used LC39B (due to the "all-up" testing resulting in a 2-month turnaround period), all manned Apollo-Saturn V launches, commencing with Apollo 8, used LC39A. After the launch of Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 in 1973, using the Saturn INT-21
Saturn INT-21
The Saturn INT-21 was a study for an American orbital launch vehicle of the 1970s. It was derived from the Saturn V rocket used for the Apollo program, using its first and second stages, but lacking the third stage. The guidance unit would be moved from the top of the third stage to the top of the...

 rocket (a two-stage variation of the Saturn V rocket originally intended for the Apollo Applications Program
Apollo Applications program
The Apollo Applications Program was established by NASA headquarters in 1968 to develop science-based manned space missions using surplus material from the Apollo program...

), LC39A was reconfigured for the Space Shuttle and was used for the first Shuttle launch (STS-1
STS-1
STS-1 was the first orbital flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. Space Shuttle Columbia launched on 12 April 1981, and returned to Earth on 14 April, having orbited the Earth 37 times during the 54.5-hour mission. It was the first American manned space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project...

), using the Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia
Space Shuttle Columbia was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew...

 in 1981. name="mods"> After Apollo 10, LC39B was kept as a backup launch facility in the case of the destruction of LC39A, but saw service for all three Skylab missions, the ASTP flight, as well as un-launched Skylab Rescue flight. After ASTP, LC39B underwent the same reconfiguration as LC39A, but due to necessary modifications (mainly to allow the facility to service a modified Centaur-G upper stage), along with budgetary restraints, it was not ready until 1986, and the first Shuttle launch to use it was the ill-fated STS-51-L
STS-51-L
STS-51-L was the twenty-fifth flight of the American Space Shuttle program, which marked the first time an ordinary civilian, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, had flown aboard the Space Shuttle. The mission used Space Shuttle Challenger, which lifted off from the Launch Complex 39-B on 28 January...

 flight – the Challenger disaster.

During the launch of Discovery on STS-124
STS-124
STS-124 was a Space Shuttle mission, flown by Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. Discovery launched on 31 May 2008 at 17:02 EDT, moved from an earlier scheduled launch date of 25 May 2008, and landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility, at 11:15...

 on May 31, 2008, the pad at LC39A suffered extensive damage, in particular to the concrete trench used to deflect the SRB's flames. The subsequent mishap investigation found that the damage was the result of carbonation of epoxy and corrosion of steel anchors which held the refractory bricks in the trench in place. These had been exacerbated by the fact that hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 is an exhaust by-product of the solid rocket boosters.

Space shuttle usage

Integration of launch vehicle stack

The thrust to allow the Space Shuttle to achieve orbit is provided by a combination of the Solid Rocket Booster
Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster
The Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters were the pair of large solid rockets used by the United States' NASA Space Shuttle during the first two minutes of powered flight. Together they provided about 83% of liftoff thrust for the Space Shuttle. They were located on either side of the rusty or...

s (SRBs) and the Space Shuttle Main Engine
Space Shuttle main engine
The RS-25, otherwise known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine , is a reusable liquid-fuel rocket engine built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for the Space Shuttle, running on liquid hydrogen and oxygen. Each Space Shuttle was propelled by three SSMEs mated to one powerhead...

s (SSMEs). The SRBs use solid propellant, hence their name. The SSMEs use a combination of liquid hydrogen
Liquid hydrogen
Liquid hydrogen is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. Hydrogen is found naturally in the molecular H2 form.To exist as a liquid, H2 must be pressurized above and cooled below hydrogen's Critical point. However, for hydrogen to be in a full liquid state without boiling off, it needs to be...

 and liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen — abbreviated LOx, LOX or Lox in the aerospace, submarine and gas industries — is one of the physical forms of elemental oxygen.-Physical properties:...

 (LOX) from the External Tank (ET), as the Shuttle does not have fuel tanks for the SSMEs. Months before launch, the three main components of the "stack" are brought together in the Vehicle Assembly Building
Vehicle Assembly Building
The Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. It is the fourth largest building in the world by volume...

 (VAB). The components are placed on a Mobile Launcher Platform
Mobile Launcher Platform
The Mobile Launcher Platform or MLP is one of three two-story structures used by NASA to support the Space Shuttle stack during its transportation from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center as well as serve as the vehicle's launch platform...

 (MLP). The SRBs arrive in segments via rail car from their manufacturing facility in Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, the external tank arrives from its manufacturing facility in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 by barge and the Space Shuttle waits in the Orbiter Processing Facility
Orbiter Processing Facility
An Orbiter Processing Facility was one of three hangars where U.S. space shuttle orbiters underwent maintenance between flights. All three such facilities, OPF-1, OPF-2 and OPF-3, were located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at Launch Complex 39.They were located west of the Vehicle...

 (OPF). The SRBs are first stacked, and then the external tank is mounted between them. Then using a massive crane, the Shuttle is lowered and connected to the external tank.

Transportation to the pad

When the stack integration is completed, it is moved by the Crawler-Transporter
Crawler-Transporter
The crawler-transporters are a pair of tracked vehicles used to transport spacecraft from NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building along the Crawlerway to Launch Complex 39. They were originally used to transport the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets during the Apollo, Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs....

 the 3–4 miles (5-6 kilometers) to the pad over eight hours. At the pad, the MLP is lowered onto several pedestals, and the Crawler-Transporter moves off the pad to a staging area a safe distance away.

Payload to be installed at the launch pad is independently transported in a payload transportation canister, and then installed vertically at the Payload Changeout Room. Otherwise, payload would have already been pre-installed at the Orbiter Processing Facility, and transported within the shuttle orbiter's cargo bay.

Launch towers

Each pad contains a two-piece access tower system, the Fixed Service Structure (FSS) and the Rotating Service Structure (RSS). The FSS permits access to the Shuttle via a retractable arm and a "beanie cap" to capture vented LOX from the external tank. The RSS contains the Payload Changeout Room, which offers "clean" access to the orbiter's payload bay, protection from the elements and can protect the shuttle in winds up to 60 knots (117.6 km/h). Also at each pad are large cryogenic tanks that store the fuel liquid hydrogen
Liquid hydrogen
Liquid hydrogen is the liquid state of the element hydrogen. Hydrogen is found naturally in the molecular H2 form.To exist as a liquid, H2 must be pressurized above and cooled below hydrogen's Critical point. However, for hydrogen to be in a full liquid state without boiling off, it needs to be...

 and liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen — abbreviated LOx, LOX or Lox in the aerospace, submarine and gas industries — is one of the physical forms of elemental oxygen.-Physical properties:...

 (LOX) fuel for the SSMEs. The highly explosive nature of these chemicals requires numerous safety measures at the Launch Complex. NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 calculates the minimum safe distance for a fully fueled Space Shuttle stack is three miles (5 km) for personnel, and 8700 feet (2,651.8 m) between pads. Before tanking operations begin and during launch, non-essential personnel are excluded from the danger area. The Launch Control Center
Launch Control Center
The Launch Control Center is a four-story building located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida used for the supervision of launches from Launch Complex 39. In practice, this means that the LCC handles all American manned space flights...

 and Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) are almost exactly three miles (5 km) away.

39B does not have any structures while it is being modified for Ares 1.

Swing arms

Swing arms are retractable mechanical systems that extend from the launch tower to the Space Shuttle. They provide access to the vehicle for people, wiring and plumbing while the vehicle is on the launch pad. They retract by swinging away before launch.

People (technicians, engineers, and astronauts) use the Orbiter Access Arm to access the crew module. At the end of the arm, the white room provides an environmentally controlled and protected area for astronauts and their equipment to enter the orbiter.

The Gaseous Oxygen Vent Arm positions a hood, often called the "Beanie Cap" over the top of the External Tank (ET) nose cone during fueling. Heated gaseous nitrogen is used there to remove the extremely cold gaseous oxygen that normally vents out of the external tank. This prevents the formation of ice that could fall and damage the shuttle.

The Hydrogen Vent Line Access Arm mates the External Tank (ET) Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate (GUCP) to the launch pad hydrogen vent line. The GUCP provides support for plumbing and cables, called umbilicals that transfer fluids, gases, and electrical signals between two pieces of equipment. While the ET is being fueled, hazardous gas is vented from a internal hydrogen tank through the GUCP, out a vent line to a flare stack where it is burned off at a safe distance. Sensors at the GUCP measure gas level. The GUPC was redesigned after leaks created scrubs of STS-127
STS-127
STS-127 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station . It was the twenty-third flight of . The primary purpose of the STS-127 mission was to deliver and install the final two components of the Japanese Experiment Module: the Exposed Facility , and the Exposed Section of the...

 and were also detected during attempts to launch STS-119
STS-119
-Crew notes:This mission was originally scheduled to bring the Expedition 9 crew to the ISS. This crew would have consisted of:-Mission parameters:* Mass:* Orbiter liftoff: * Orbiter landing: * Perigee: * Apogee:...

 and STS-133
STS-133
STS-133 was the 133rd mission in NASA's Space Shuttle program; during the mission, Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station. It was Discoverys 39th and final mission. The mission launched on 24 February 2011, and landed on 9 March 2011...

. The GUCP releases from the ET at launch and falls away with a curtain of water sprayed across it for protection from flames.

Sound suppression water system

An elevated water tank near each pad provides sound buffering protection for the launching spacecraft. Part of the Sound Suppression Water System (SSWS), the 290 feet (88.4 m) water towers store 300,000 gallons (1.1 Megalitres) of water, which is released just before engine ignition. The water discharged onto the launch platform during lift-off muffles the intense sound waves produced by the Shuttle engines. Due to heating of the water, a large quantity of steam is produced during launch.

Emergency pad evacuation

In an emergency, the launch complex uses a slidewire escape basket system for quick evacuation. Assisted by members of the closeout team, the crew would leave the shuttle and ride an emergency basket to the ground at speeds reaching up to 55 miles per hour (88.5 km/h). From there, the crew take shelter in a bunker. A modified M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
The M113 is a fully tracked armored personnel carrier that has formed the backbone of the United States Army's mechanized infantry units from the time of its first fielding in Vietnam in April 1962. The M113 was the most widely used armored vehicle of the U.S...

 can carry injured astronauts away from the complex to safety.

Future use

With the retirement of the Shuttle in 2011, the future of LC-39 is undetermined following cancellation of Project Constellation
Project Constellation
Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

 in 2010.

LC-39B

NASA deactivated LC-39B on January 1, 2007, thus making the nighttime launch of STS-116
STS-116
-Crew notes:Originally this mission was to carry the Expedition 8 crew to the ISS. The original crew was to be:-Mission highlights:* The STS-116 mission delivered and attached the International Space Station's third port truss segment, the P5 truss....

, which occurred on December 9, 2006 its last shuttle mission.

Between the STS-116 launch and the STS-125 mission, when the Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space Shuttle Endeavour is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger...

was placed on LC-39B in the event NASA needed to launch the STS-400
STS-400
- Early mission plans :Three different concept mission plans were evaluated: The first would be to use a shuttle-to-shuttle docking, where the rescue shuttle docks with the damaged shuttle, by flying upside down and backwards, relative to the damaged shuttle...

 rescue mission, contractors installed three new 600 ft. tall lightning mast towers similar to those used on the Atlas V and Delta IV
Delta IV rocket
Delta IV is an active expendable launch system in the Delta rocket family. Delta IV uses rockets designed by Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems division and built in the United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama. Final assembly is completed at the launch site by ULA...

 launch pads at nearby Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is an installation of the United States Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing, headquartered at nearby Patrick Air Force Base. Located on Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida, CCAFS is the primary launch head of America's Eastern Range with four launch pads...

. At the same time they removed the existing single lightning mast and crane assembly. (The crane assembly dated back to the Apollo program.) With the completion of STS-125
STS-125
STS-125, or HST-SM4 , was the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope .Launch occurred on 11 May 2009 at 2:01 pm EDT...

, contractors converted LC-39B for the successful test flight of Ares I-X on October 28, 2009.

Since the Ares I-X flight, NASA is proceeding with plans to strip LC-39B of its FSS, returning the location to an Apollo-like "clean pad" design for the first time since 1977. This approach will make the pad available to multiple types of vehicles which arrive at the pad with service structures on the mobile launcher platform as opposed to custom structures on the pad. The LH2, LOX, and water tanks (used for the sound suppression system) are the only structures left from the Shuttle era.

, NASA is offering the pad and facilities to private companies
Private spaceflight
Private spaceflight is flight above Earth altitude conducted by and paid for by an entity other than a government. In the early decades of the Space Age, the government space agencies of the Soviet Union and United States pioneered space technology augmented by collaboration with affiliated design...

 to fly missions for the commercial space market.

LC-39A

Just like the first 24 shuttle flights, LC-39A was supporting the remaining manifested Shuttle flights, starting with STS-117
STS-117
- Crew Notes :The initial crew manifest before the Columbia accident was:Astronaut Mark Polansky was originally slated to pilot this mission, but was moved to STS-116, which he commanded...

 until the retirement of the fleet. Its future use remains undetermined following cancellation of Project Constellation
Project Constellation
Constellation Program is a human spaceflight program within NASA, the space agency of the United States. The stated goals of the program were to gain significant experience in operating away from Earth's environment, develop technologies needed for opening the space frontier, and conduct...

.

See also

  • Kennedy Space Center
    Kennedy Space Center
    The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

  • List of Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island launch sites

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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