Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Launch Operations Center which supports Launch Complex 39 (LC-39), originally built for the Saturn V, the largest and most powerful operational launch vehicle in history, for the Apollo manned Moon landing program proposed by President John F. Kennedy. It was named in honor of Kennedy by his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, shortly after Kennedy’s death in 1963.

Since the end of the Apollo program in 1972, LC-39 has been used to launch every NASA human space flight, including Skylab (1973), the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975), and the Space Shuttle program (1981-2011). KSC also has a facility which was used for landing the reusable Space Shuttle orbiters when weather permitted.

KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for the U.S. government’s civilian space program from three pads at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Located on Merritt Island, Florida, the center is north-northwest of Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic Ocean, midway between Miami and Jacksonville on Florida’s Space Coast. It is 34 miles (55 km) long and roughly 6 miles (10 km) wide, covering 219 square miles (570 km2). A total of 13,100 people worked at the center as of 2011. Approximately 2,100 are employees of the federal government; the rest are contractors.

Since December 1968, all launch operations have been conducted from launch pads A and B at LC-39. Both pads are on the ocean, 3 miles (5 km) east of the VAB. From 1969–1972, LC-39 was the departure point for all six Apollo manned Moon landing missions using the Saturn V, the largest and most powerful operational launch vehicle in history, and was used from 1981–2011 for all Space Shuttle launches. The Shuttle Landing Facility, located just to the north, was used for most Shuttle landings and is among the longest runways in the world.

KSC is a major central Florida tourist destination and is approximately one hour’s drive from the Orlando area. The Visitor Complex offers public tours of the center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Because much of the installation is a restricted area and only nine percent of the land is developed, the site also serves as an important wildlife sanctuary; Mosquito Lagoon, Indian River, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore are other features of the area. Center workers can encounter bald eagles, American alligators, wild boars, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, the endangered Florida panther and Florida manatees. KSC is one of ten major NASA field centers, and has several facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, operated by Delaware North since 1995, has a variety of exhibits, artifacts, displays and attractions on the history and future of human and robotic spaceflight. Bus tours of KSC originate from here. The complex also includes the separate Apollo/Saturn V Center, north of the VAB and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, six miles west near Titusville. There were 1.5 million visitors in 2009. It had some 700 employees.
It was announced on May 29, 2015 that the Astronaut Hall of Fame exhibit would be moved from its current location to another location within the Visitor Complex to make room for an upcoming high-tech attraction entitled “Heroes and Legends”. The attraction, to be designed by Orlando-based design firm Falcon’s Treehouse, is slated to open sometime late 2016.

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Kennedy Space Center Florida

Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899, USA

 

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Visitor Complex
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, operated by Delaware North since 1995, has a variety of exhibits, artifacts, displays and attractions on the history and future of human and robotic spaceflight. Bus tours of KSC originate from here. The complex also includes the separate Apollo/Saturn V Center, north of the VAB and the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, six miles west near Titusville. There were 1.5 million visitors in 2009. It had some 700 employees.

It was announced on May 29, 2015 that the Astronaut Hall of Fame exhibit would be moved from its current location to another location within the Visitor Complex to make room for an upcoming high-tech attraction entitled “Heroes and Legends”. The attraction, to be designed by Orlando-based design firm Falcon’s Treehouse, is slated to open sometime late 2016
Apollo Program
President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 goal of a lunar landing before 1970 required an expansion of launch operations to Merritt Island. NASA began land acquisition in 1962, buying title to 131 square miles (340 km2) and negotiating with the state of Florida for an additional 87 square miles (230 km2). The major buildings in KSC’s Industrial Area were designed by architect Charles Luckman.

On July 1, 1962, the site was named the Launch Operations Center, achieving equal status with other NASA centers; and on November 29, 1963, the facility was given its current name by President Lyndon B. Johnson under Executive Order 11129 following Kennedy’s death. Johnson’s order joined both the civilian LOC and the military Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (“the facilities of Station No. 1 of the Atlantic Missile Range”) under the designation “John F. Kennedy Space Center”, spawning some confusion joining the two in the public mind. NASA Administrator James E. Webb clarified this by issuing a directive stating the Kennedy Space Center name applied only to the LOC, while the Air Force issued a general order renaming the military launch site Cape Kennedy Air Force Station.

Launch Complex 39

Manned missions to the Moon required the large three-stage Saturn V rocket, which was 363 feet (111 meters) tall and 33 feet (10 meters) in diameter. At KSC, Launch Complex 39 (LC-39) was built on Merritt Island to accommodate the new rocket. Construction of the $800 million project began in November 1962. LC-39 pads A and B were completed by October 1965 (planned Pads C, D and E were canceled), the VAB was completed in June 1965, and the infrastructure by late 1966.

The complex includes:
the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), a 130,000,000 cubic feet (3,700,000 m3) hangar capable of holding four Saturn Vs. The VAB is the fourth-largest structure in the world by volume, and was the largest when completed in 1965.
a transporter capable of carrying 5,440 tons along a crawlerway to either of two launch pads;
a 446-foot (136 m) mobile service structure, with three Mobile Launcher Platforms, each containing a fixed launch umbilical tower;
the Launch Control Center; and
a news media facility.

From 1967 through 1973, there were 13 Saturn V launches, including the ten remaining Apollo missions after Apollo 7. The first of three unmanned flights, Apollo 4 (Apollo-Saturn 501) on November 9, 1967, was also the first rocket launch from KSC itself. The Saturn V’s first manned launch on December 21, 1968 was Apollo 8’s lunar orbiting mission. The next two missions tested the Lunar Module: Apollo 9 (Earth orbit) and Apollo 10 (lunar orbit). Apollo 11, launched from Pad A on July 16, 1969, made the first Moon landing on July 20. Apollo 12 followed four months later. From 1970–1972, the Apollo program concluded at KSC with the launches of missions 13 through 17.

As the Space Shuttle was being designed, NASA received proposals for building alternative launch-and-landing sites at locations other than KSC, which demanded study. KSC had important advantages, including: its existing facilities; location on the Intracoastal Waterway; and its southern latitude, which gives a velocity advantage to missions launched in easterly near-equatorial orbits. Disadvantages included: its inability to safely launch military missions into polar orbit, since spent boosters would be likely to fall on the Carolinas or Cuba; corrosion from the salt air; and frequent cloudy or stormy weather. Although building a new site at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was seriously considered, NASA announced its decision in April 1972 to use KSC for the shuttle. Since the Shuttle could not be landed automatically or by remote control, the launch of Columbia on April 12, 1981 for its first orbital mission STS-1, was NASA’s first manned launch of a vehicle that had not been tested in prior unmanned launches.

 

Space Shuttle

KSC’s 2.9 mile (4.6 km) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) was the orbiters’ primary end-of-mission landing site, although the first KSC landing did not take place until the tenth flight, when Challenger completed STS-41-B on February 11, 1984; the primary landing site until then was Edwards Air Force Base in California, subsequently used as a backup landing site. The SLF also provided a return-to-launch-site (RTLS) abort option, which was not utilized.

After 24 successful shuttle flights, Challenger was torn apart 73 seconds after the launch of STS-51-L on January 28, 1986; the first shuttle launch from Pad 39B and the first U.S. manned launch failure, killing the seven crew members. An O-ring seal in the right booster rocket failed at liftoff, leading to subsequent structural failures. Flights resumed on September 29, 1988 with STS-26 after a lot of modifications to many aspects of the shuttle program.

On February 1, 2003, Columbia and her crew of seven were lost during re-entry over Texas during the STS-107 mission (the 113th shuttle flight); a vehicle breakup triggered by damage sustained during launch from Pad 39A on January 16, when a piece of foam insulation from the orbiter’s external fuel tank struck the orbiter’s left wing. During reentry, the damage created a hole allowing hot gases to melt the wing structure. Like the Challenger disaster, the resulting investigation and modifications interrupted shuttle flight operations at KSC for more than two years until the STS-114 launch on July 26, 2005.

The shuttle program experienced five main engine shutdowns at LC-39, all within four seconds before launch; and one abort to orbit, STS-51-F on July 29, 1985. Shuttle missions during nearly 30 years of operations included deploying satellites and interplanetary probes, conducting space science and technology experiments, visits to the Russian MIR space station, construction and servicing of the International Space Station, deployment and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope and serving as a space laboratory. The shuttle was retired from service in July 2011 after 135 launches.

On October 28, 2009, the Ares I-X launch from Pad 39B was the first unmanned launch from KSC since the Skylab workshop in 1973.

The end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 produced a significant downsizing of the KSC workforce similar to that experienced at the end of the Apollo program in 1972; NASA is currently designing the next heavy launch vehicle known as the Space Launch System (SLS) for continuation of human spaceflight. Pad 39A has been left in its space shuttle launch configuration; Pad B has been dismantled to its base in order to support the new rocket and a more flexible “clean pad” concept.

As part of this downsizing, 6,000 contractors lost their jobs at the Center during 2010 and 2011.

On December 5, 2014, the KSC launched the first unmanned flight test of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), currently under development to facilitate human exploration of the Moon, asteroids, and Mars.

The center operated its own 17-mile (27 km) short-line railroad. This operation was discontinued in 2015, with the sale of its final two locomotives. A third had already been donated to a museum. The line was costing $1.3 million annually to maintain.