space shuttle launch pad

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For the first time in 2,044 days, a rocket is perched atop historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket arrived at the pad early this morning, February 10, ahead of an upcoming static fire test.

The former Apollo and Shuttle era launch pad last saw a space vehicle in July of 2011 when the final space shuttle mission, STS-135, launched. NASA continued to operate the pad until early 2015, when SpaceX leased it for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy operations. This historic event marks the third rocket to fly from LC-39A behind the Saturn V moon rocket and space shuttle.

SpaceX will perform a static fire test sometime Saturday to test the rocket’s systems. Once complete, the rocket will return to the Horizontal Integration Facility for mating with the Dragon spacecraft.

Falcon 9 will perform its east-coast return to flight with the CRS-10 mission to the International Space Station, slated for February 18. Following liftoff, the rocket’s first stage will return to Cape Canaveral for a landing at LZ-1, the third time the company has done so.

Below, the Falcon 9 rocket is seen prior to being erected vertical at LC-39A.(Photo credit: William Harwood/CBS.)

P/C: Elon Musk/William Harwood.

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STS-72 Launch by NASA
A “fish-eye” lens was used to afford this unique view of the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Liftoff for STS-72 occurred at 4:41: a.m. (EST), January 11, 1996. Onboard the spacecraft were astronauts Brian Duffy, commander; Brent W. Jett, pilot; along with Daniel T. Barry, Leroy Chiao, Winston E. Scott and Koichi Wakata, all mission specialists. Image #: STS072-S-003 Date: January 11, 1996

The Space Shuttle Discovery soars skyward from Launch Pad 39B on Mission STS-64 at 6:22:35 p.m. EDT, September 9, 1994. On board were a crew of six: Commander Richard N. Richards; Pilot L. Blaine Hammond Jr.; and Mission Specialists Mark C. Lee, Carl J. Meade, Susan J. Helms and Dr. J.M. Linenger. Payloads for the flight included the Lidar InSpace Technology Experiment (LITE), the Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy 201 (SPARTAN201) and the Robot Operated Processing System (ROMPS).

The rising sun and some scattered clouds provide a picturesque backdrop for the Space Shuttle Discovery as it travels along the Crawlerway toward Launch Pad 39A in preparation for the STS-83 mission. The Shuttle is on a Mobile Launch Platform, and the entire assemblage is being carried by a large tracked vehicle called the Crawler Transporter. A seven-member crew will perform the second sevicing of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during the 10-day STS-82 flight, which launched on February 11, 1997.

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7 from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-7 crew consisted of astronauts Robert Crippen, commander, the first two-time space shuttle astronaut; Frederick H. Hauck, pilot; and three mission specialists – Ride, John M. Fabian and Norman E. Thagard.

This high-angle view of the shuttle liftoff, showing a lengthy stretch of Florida Atlantic coastline and a number of large cumulus clouds, was photographed with a handheld 70mm camera by astronaut John W. Young, who piloted the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) for weather monitoring at launch and landing sites for STS missions.

One of Sally Ride’s jobs was to call out “Roll program” seven seconds after launch. “I’ll guarantee that those were the hardest words I ever had to get out of my mouth,” she said later.

A massive 19 million pounds (8.6 million kilograms) of Space Shuttle, support and transport hardware, inch toward Launch Pad 39A from the Vehicle Assembly Building. The fully assembled Space Shuttle Endeavour, minus its payloads, weighs about 4.5 million pounds (2 million kg.); the mobile launch platform on which it was stacked and from which it will lift off weighs 9.25 million pounds (4.19 million kg.) and the crawler-transporter carrying the platform and Shuttle checks in at around 6 million pounds (2.7 million kg.). Once at the pad, the Shuttle and launch platform will be positioned atop support columns to complete preparations for the second Shuttle launch of 1995. Primary payload of Mission STS-67 is the Astro-2 astrophysics observatory, carrying three ultraviolet telescopes that flew on the Astro-1 mission in 1990. STS-67 also is scheduled to become the longest Shuttle flight to date, lasting 16 days.

Through the Clouds : On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7 from Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center. One of her jobs was to call out Roll program seven seconds after launch. Ill guarantee that those were the hardest words I ever had to get out of my mouth, she said later.

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