Last updated October 25, 2018 at 2:42 pm
Two historic launch towers at Cape Canaveral have been toppled in a spectacular demolition.
With a bang and a crash, the US Air Force has demolished two historic launch towers at Cape Canaveral to make way for redevelopment.
Complex 17, one of the oldest launch complexes at the Cape, was the site of 325 launches of Thor and Delta rockets between 1957 and 2011. Those launches included 48 GPS satellites relied upon for navigation today, as well as a range of other scientific missions aboard Delta 2 rockets including NASA’s first three Mars rovers and Messenger, the first space craft to orbit Mercury.
The Kepler observatory, responsible for identifying innumerable exoplanets, also began its journey at Complex 17.
The Delta 2 launches were moved in 2011, however, to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, heralding a temporary end to Complex 17’s storied role in space. Since then, the pads have sat unused. With the Delta program ending soon, their usefulness in the future was further limited.
A new lease of life
The demolition of the towers brings in a new era at Complex 17. The private moon exploration company Moon Express has leased Complex 17 and its neighbouring Complex 18 for testing of its spacecraft.
Despite not having taken out the Google Lunar XPrize, Moon Express are still progressing with plans to become the first private company to land and operate a rover on the moon, and Cape Canaveral will play a central role in those plans.
We are honored to carry the baton forward at Cape Canaveral's historic launch complexes SLC-17 & 18, with deep thanks to Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith & the @45thSpaceWing https://t.co/y0RVPpCGnp pic.twitter.com/pDECzg5v52
— MOON ΞXPRΞSS (@MoonEx) July 12, 2018
Video courtesy of ABC Action News on Youtube