To launch Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX is bound to make use of the pad previously utilized for the first moon mission. This launch will be different from the ones who have always taken place on the Florida coast. The Falcon 9 craft will not set off from its usual launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Launch Complex 40.
- SpaceX signed a lease with NASA which allows the company to use Launch Complex 39A.
- The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to set off from 39A on February 18th.
- SpaceX is currently renovating Launch Complex 40 after the disaster in September.
Instead, SpaceX decided to use the Launch Complex 39A, which is a site at the Kennedy Space Center of NASA. The pad here was previously used for flights of the Saturn V crafts which set off for the Moon. The last time this launchpad was used it was back on July 8th, 2011. Then, the Space Shuttle Atlantic took off, engaging in its most recent flight.
Since then, the pad was no longer used for other launches. Nevertheless, in 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease with NASA which attested that the agency is allowed to use launchpad at Launch Complex 39A, renovating it to make it suitable for supporting launches like the Falcon 9 rocket launch and other crafts like the Falcon Heavy.
Since the deal was closed, SpaceX worked on renovating and modernizing the launchpad while also developing a massive warehouse outside the perimeter of the pad called the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF). For the moment, the HIF is used to deposit Falcon 9 crafts, and it is also a suitable place where vehicles are prepared before launching out of 39A.
Previously, the company relied on Launch Complex 40 to enable all Florida launches. However, on September 1st, one of the Falcon 9 crafts exploded on the Launch Complex 40 pad during a fueling procedure. The site was extremely damaged. After the terrible incident, 39A will become the primary launchpad for the company at least until LC40 is renovated.
Then, SpaceX will have two launching pads in Florida. What is more, the first flight of the Falcon Heavy craft was scheduled to set off for the first time from 39A this year. This spacecraft is a massive one, being three times bigger than Falcon 9 core.
Back in January, SpaceX had already returned to the launchpad, launching a craft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first Falcon 9 launch was scheduled for February 18th.
Image source: wikipedia