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Commercial satellite images historic Apollo launch pads – Spaceflight Now



Pillow 39A is now used by SpaceX for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket launches. In this view, Monday caught the strongback transport structure in horizontal position at pillow 39A, with an American flag waving from the fixed service structure, a tower originally built for the space shuttle and modified for SpaceX's use. Credit: Maxar Technologies

Maxar's eagle-eyed WorldView 3 satellite was recorded in high resolution Monday by NASA's twin Apollo era launch pads at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, both now home to new launch vehicles 50 years after that people took their first step on the moon.

Pillow 39A is now rented from NASA by SpaceX for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket launches. The commercial space carrier took over operations at the launch pad in 2014 and began launching missions on February 19, 2017.

On the image taken by Maxar's WorldView 3 satellite Monday, SpaceX & # 39; s strongback transport structure is in horizontal position on pad 39A, and a US flag is seen away from the facility's fixed service structure, a tower originally built for the space shuttle and modified for SpaceX's use.

The crew receiver on the pad 39A is also visible. The swing arm will be used by astronauts aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, one of two new commercial spacecraft under contract with NASA to restore independent access to the International Space Station for American astronauts without counting on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

WorldView 3 took the pictures of the two launch pads at NASA's historic Launch Complex 39 from a height of approximately. 383 miles (617 kilometers). Both launch cushions are located less than half a mile (less than a mile) from the Kennedy Space Center beach and were built in the 1960s for the Apollo moon program.

Pad 39A has been the starting point for 112 launches since 1967, including 12 Saturn 5 Moon Rockets, 82 Space missions, 15 Falcon 9 rockets and three Falcon Heavy flights.

The Apollo 11 mission, which was launched 50 years ago on July 16, went famously from pad 39A on the first mission to land astronauts on the moon. Other notable launches from Pillow 39A include lifting the Skylab space station, first and last space flights, and the first launch of Falcon Heavy, the most powerful commercial launch device ever built.

NASA is ready for launch pad 39B for the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift rocket designed to send astronauts back to the moon. In this view, Monday, SLS mobile launch towers caught on pillow 39B after rolled out to the sea complex last month for testing. Credit: Maxar Technologies

Pad 39B, located about a mile and a half north of pad 39A, has hosted 59 launches since 1969. A Saturn 5 rocket, four Saturn 1B missions, 53 space shuttle flights and a single suborbital test launch of NASA's now canceled Ares 1 rocket has lifted from pillow 39B.

The latest launch from pillow 39A was June 25, when a Falcon Heavy took off with two dozen satellites. Pad 39B's latest launch was Ares 1X test start in October 2009.

But pillow 39B sees more activity as NASA prepares the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket set to the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2,021th

The Space Launch System mobile start tower rolled out to cushion 39B on June 27 to launch a three-month series of checkouts and tests, including sound-suppressing water testing, liquid hydrogen, and liquid oxygen drive streams, and a full electrical compatibility control with the launch plate.

The mobile platform will carry the 322-meter (98-meter) SLS rocket from NASA's vehicle building to cushion 39B during launch campaigns.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .


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