Saturn V. The Space Shuttle, and now Falcon 9. On Saturday, February 18, 2017, SpaceX intends to return launchpad A at Launch Complex 39 (LC-39) to active status, sending the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS).
LC-39 has sat dormant since the final launch of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135, which sent the orbiter Atlantis to the same destination, 235 miles above the surface of the Earth. LC-39A played host to thirteen missions during the Apollo era, and 72 Space Shuttle Launches between 1981-2011. Tomorrow’s planned launch will break a streak of 2052 days without a launch at LC-39, the second longest stretch since the pad’s initial construction (the downtime between the end of the Apollo program and the start of Shuttle numbered 2,098 days, but the downtime for launchpad A specifically stretched to 2,980 days).
Atlantis’s main engines ignite seconds before liftoff of the STS-135 mission in July 2011. Photo credit: Jared Haworth
Launch Complex 39A began its life as LC-39C, one of an initially planned five launchpads as a part of the overall LC-39 area. When the pads to the north of LC-39B were canceled, LC-39C was re-designated LC-39A.
The first ...