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NASA's Cape Canaveral Launch Towers Are Now Demolished

Jul 14, 2018 10:04 PM EDT
Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral's iconic launch towers come crashing down after several years of going unused.
(Photo : Associated Press | YouTube)

Cape Canaveral's twin launch towers in Florida are an irreplaceable slice of history, but it all came crashing down last Thursday, July 12.

While these towers has risen from Launch Complex 17 since the early days of the United States' space program, it's been demolished to make way for a new stage in the country's journey beyond Earth.

The Historic Launch Towers

The Launch Compex 17's two pads was initially built for the Thor missiles in the 1950s, Popular Mechanics reports. It became the launch site of Delta rockets since then, shaping up to be a crucial part of many high-profile missions of NASA such as the Pioneer, the Spirit, and Opportunity Mars.

However, all good things must come to an end. The last launch in Launch Complex 17 took place almost seven years ago when the United Launch Alliance's Delta II rocket lifted off with lunar probes, according to Click Orlando.

With the Delta programing nearing its end, the towers are likely to remain unused in the foreseeable future, anyway.

Seeing the launch site topple down lends to some mixed feelings, especially among the individuals who have been part of the Delta projects.

Tim Dunn, a launch director with Kennedy Space Center's Launch Services Program, tells Click Orlando that reminiscing of all the successful Delta missions is quite poignant.

"It gives me a great feeling to remember all of the wonderful missions that I've been able to be a part of," Dunn says. "At the same time, it is the final closure of the Complex 17 book, and with that, a little melancholy."

Scott Messer, ULA's Delta II program manager, agrees, saying that the demolition is a bit emotional for him due to the many missions that took place at the site.

"With 61 years of history and 325 launches, it's been a pretty incredible piece of the space community for many years," he explains.

Something New To Rise From The Site 

The launch site will not remain an empty patch in Cape Canaveral, though. It will continue to be a crucial part of space advancements as the new launch site of private startup company Moon Express.

Moon Express is one of the finalists of the Google Lunar XPrize, which calls for companies to create innovative ways to get to the moon. No one took home the prize for the competition, but Moon Express is continuing its mission to create a small-ish lunar lander that could perform missions for NASA and other agencies.

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