Spaceport Florida Launch Complex 36

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Launch Complex 36
File:Atlas Centaur 27 with Pioneer 10 on launch pad.jpg
An Atlas-Centaur at LC-36 prior to the launch of Pioneer 10
Launch site CCAFS (1962-2010)
Spaceport Florida (2010—)
Location Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Short name SLC-36
Operator Space Florida
US Air Force
Total launches 145
Launch pad(s) 2
Min / max
orbital inclination
28° - 57°
(S)LC-36A launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 69
First launch 18 May 1962
Atlas LV-3C Centaur-A AC-1
Last launch 31 August 2004
Atlas IIAS / NROL-1
Atlas I
Atlas II
(S)LC-36B launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 76
First launch 11 August 1965
Atlas LV-3C Centaur-D / Surveyor D-2
Last launch 3 February 2005
Atlas III / NROL-23
Atlas I
Atlas II
Atlas III

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.[1][2]

In 2015, Blue Origin leased the 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. Orbital launches are expected to begin from LC36 no earlier than 2020.[3]

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.[4] There were a total of 69 and 76 launches from pads 36A and 36B, respectively, while the US government operated the launch complex in the first five decades of spaceflight.[5]

The Atlas rockets launched from Complex 36 were subsequently replaced by the Atlas V launch vehicle which launches from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral beginning in 2002.


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.[citation needed]

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,[6] but that program had not moved forward as late as 2013.[7]

In March 2010, the USAF 45th Space Wing issued Real Property Licenses to Space Florida for Space Launch Complexes 36 and 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[8][9]

In early 2015, Moon Express leased the pad in February from Space Florida to use as a test site for the MTC-1X Lunar lander flight test vehicle.[10]

2006 tower demolition

The legacy Atlas-Centaur umbilical towers of both pads were demolished in 2006.[11] 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).[12]

Blue Origin lease

On September 15, 2015, Blue Origin announced it would use Launch Complex 36 for launches of its orbital launch vehicle later in the decade.[13][14][15]

Blue Origin has leased the land 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. As of 2015, the first Blue launch from LC36 is planned for before 2020.[5]

As of February 2015, the pad design and configuration is not yet known.[5]

As of March 2016, the first launch of the Blue orbital launch vehicle, or Very Big Brother, is estimated to be no earlier than 2020.[3]

An Atlas III launches from SLC-36B 
The MSS of Space Launch Complex 36A falls to the ground after critical supports are destroyed in a controlled explosion. (NASA

See also


  1. McDowell, Jonathan (February 22, 1998). "Issue 350". Jonathan's Space Report. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved January 25, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Table 3 — Launch Capability in Florida". AU-18 Space Handbook. Air War College Gateway to the Internet. Retrieved January 25, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Boyle, Alan (2016-03-05). "Jeff Bezos lifts curtain on Blue Origin rocket factory, lays out grand plan for space travel that spans hundreds of years". GeekWire. Retrieved 2016-03-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Research Triangle Institute, Center for Aerospace Technology (CAST), Florida Office (March 1999). "Launch Site Safety Assessment, Section 1.0 Eastern Range General Range Capabilities" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. p. 31. Retrieved January 25, 2010. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Gebhardt, Chris (2015-10-08). "Canaveral and KSC pads: New designs for space access". Retrieved 2015-10-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Craig Covault (Oct 27, 2008). "Boeing Joins Commercial Athena III Program".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Athena rising?, Dwayne Day, The Space Review, February 11, 2013
  8. "Air Force licenses two launch complexes for commercial use". Retrieved March 15, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Space Florida secures licenses for Launch Complexes 46 and 36". Retrieved March 15, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Clark, Stephen (24 January 2015). "Former Atlas launch pad gets a new tenant". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 8 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Coledan, Stefano S. (February 28, 2006). "Slowly Crumbling, NASA Landmarks May Face the Bulldozer". The New York Times. Cape Canaveral: The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Warren, Ken (June 21, 2007). "Historic complex 36 towers toppled". Air Force. Patrick Air Force Base: 45th SW Public Affairs. Retrieved January 25, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Cofield, Calla (15 September 2015). "Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Will Launch Rockets and Spaceships from Florida". Retrieved 15 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Foust, Jeff (2015-09-15). "Bezos Not Concerned About Competition, Possible ULA Sale". Space News. Retrieved 16 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Jeff Bezos plans to boost humans into space from Cape Canaveral, CBS News, accessed 2015-09-17.

External links