NASA retires iconic countdown clock.
On of the most iconic landmarks at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was turned off last week, ahead of its pending replacement.
Yesterday, 19 November, 2014, shortly after 3:45 PM EST, the historic countdown clock was turned off for the last time. Parts for the 45 year old clock are no longer readily available, and maintenance costs skyrocketed.
Records indicate that the blue countdown clock was first used for the December 1969 launch of Apollo 12. Ever since, it has been a staple of launches from Launch Complex 39.
During the shuttle program, the clock was prominently featured in television feeds and photos, the press media grandstand located just a few dozen feet infront of it. After that program ended, the clock was used to support unmanned NASA missions at nearby Cap Canaveral Air Force Station.
Its simple design was part of its aesthetic; white bulbs forming block numbers, in a black case trimmed in blue. The base was a silver curve, evoking the retro design styles that were common in the late 1960’s.
Along with a nearby flagpole, the clock was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Because of this, and its iconic role in the U.S. space programme, the clock is being preserved. It will be moved to the KSC Visitor Complex. Display plans have yet to be disclosed.
It is hoped that the clock’s replacement will be working in time for the December 4 launch of the first Orion mission. A $280,000 modern screen will replace the old clock, but will have more versatility than its predecessor. New features will include multiple video feeds, audio capability, and of course, a clock. KSC officials say it will not be unlike something you would see at a sports arena.
Th first photo shows the clock during the countdown of the TDRS-K mission in January, 2013. The second is me on the clock, and the third, a shot of the clock, flagpole, and VAB.