Spaceport Florida Launch Complex 36
|Launch site||CCAFS (1962-2010)|
Spaceport Florida (2010—)
US Air Force
|Min / max|
|28° - 57°|
Launch Complex 36 (LC-36)—formerly known as Space Launch Complex 36 (SLC-36) from 1997 to 2010—is a launch complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Brevard County, Florida. It was used for Atlas launches by NASA and the US Air Force from 1962 until 2005.
Blue Origin has leased the launch site since 2015 in order to build a new launch site for launching Blue's orbital rockets. Orbital launches are expected to begin from LC36 no earlier than 2020, and the first launch vehicle slated to launch there is New Glenn, under development by Blue Origin since 2012.
Historically, the complex consisted of two launch pads, SLC-36A and SLC-36B, and was the launch site for the Pioneer, Surveyor, and Mariner probes in the 1960s and 1970s. There were a total of 68 and 77 launches from pads 36A and 36B, respectively, while the US government operated the launch complex in the first five decades of spaceflight.
LC-36A was the scene of the biggest on-pad explosion in Cape history when Atlas-Centaur AC-5 fell back onto the pad on March 2, 1965. The accident spurred NASA to complete work on LC-36B which had been abandoned when it was 90% finished.
In 2008, Aviation Week magazine reported that the U.S. Air Force committed to lease Launch Complex 36 to Space Florida for future use by the Athena III launch system, but that program had not moved forward as late as 2013.
In 2015, Blue Origin signed a long-term lease of launch site from Space Florida for launching Blue's orbital rockets, after Space Florida had previously leased the facility from the USAF in 2010 in order to facilitate commercial use of the land and facilities since the Air Force no longer required use of the launch complex. Moon Express and Blue Origin shared LC-36, delineated into LC-36A and LC-36B respectively, until Moon Express announced its relocation to Launch Complexes 17 and 18 in 2016, allowing Blue Origin full use of the LC-36 facility. As of 2016[update], orbital launches are expected to begin from LC-36 no earlier than 2020.
2006 tower demolition
The legacy Atlas-Centaur umbilical towers of both pads were demolished in 2006. The mobile service towers were both demolished in controlled explosions on June 16, 2007. Tower B was demolished at 13:59 GMT (09:59 EDT) and tower A followed twelve minutes later at 14:11 (10:11 EDT).
Blue Origin lease
Blue Origin has leased the land[when?] at Launch Complex 36 from the Florida state space agency, Space Florida, and will manufacture their new BE-4-powered orbital launch vehicle at the nearby Exploration Park, also a part of the Space Florida land complex.
By March 2016, the first launch of the Blue orbital launch vehicle New Glenn was estimated to be no earlier than 2020 and that target date had not changed by the time high-level specifications for the new launcher were unveiled in September 2016,, nor by the time construction of the launch site was well underway in September 2018.
The New Glenn will be a very large 7.0-meter (23 ft)-diameter vehicle. The first stage will be powered by seven BE-4 methane/oxygen engines producing 17.1 meganewtons (3,850,000 lbf) total thrust at launch. The first stage will be reusable and is designed to land vertically.
Blue has also leased the adjacent land—formerly known as LC-11—to use as a ground-based rocket engine test facility. Construction of the new launch complex and engine test facility was still underway in September 2018.
An Atlas III launches from SLC-36B
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