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Encyclopedia > Launch pad

Overview

The launch pad refers to the facilities where rockets or spacecrafts liftoff. A typical launch pad consists of the service and umbilical structures. The service structure provides an access platform to inspect the launch vehicle prior to launch. Most service structures can be moved or rotated to a safe distance. The umbilical structure has propellent loading, gas, power, and communication links to the launch vehicle. The launch vehicle sits atop of the launch platform, which has the flame deflection structure to withstand the intense heat and load generated by rocket engines during liftoff.


Most cryogenic launch vehicles need to be continuously topped off as scheduled liftoff approaches. This is particularly necessary as various holds are placed on the liftoff and then removed as support personnel correct problems or verify they are not serious. Without the ability to top off the launch vehicle, the launch would have to be scrubbed when problems slowed down the countdown. gantries are commonly designed and constructed on launch pads to meet these types of servicing requirements both during launch and in the preparation period leading up to it. Cryogenics is the study of very low temperatures or the production of the same, and is often confused with cryobiology, the study of the effect of low temperatures on organisms, or the study of cryopreservation. ... A countdown is the backward counting to indicate the seconds, days, etc. ... A Gantry is an overhead crane, usually stradling (a support foot on either side) the payload to be lifted. ...


Most rockets need stable support for a few seconds after ignition while the engines ramp up and stabilize at full thrust. This stability requirement is commonly met by the use of explosive bolts to connect the launch vehicle to the pad. When the vehicle is stable and ready to fly the bolts explode, severing the vehicle's ties to the launch pad and structures on the ground. A Redstone rocket, part of the Mercury program The traditional definition of a rocket is a vehicle, missile or aircraft which obtains thrust by the reaction to the ejection of fast moving fluid from within a rocket engine. ... Thrust is a reaction force described quantitatively by Newtons Second and Third Law. ... An explosive bolt is a fastener that incorporates a pyrotechnic charge that can be initiated by an electrical command. ...


Methods

There are several different types of launch site, determined by the means by which the rocket gets to the pad.

  • The first large rocket, the V-2, travelled horizontally with its tail forward to the launch site at Peenemünde. This is the most common; it was used for all large Soviet rockets, even Buran.
  • In a similar manner, at the Soviet launch site near Volgograd, a silo used to launch test rockets would have its top opened and a second stage and payload would be driven in horizontally and tilted on top of a first stage already in the silo, the nose cone and some of the second stage remaining visible above ground. Hence no surface pad is used; Russian silos are reusable. This method was only used for the Cosmos series of small satellite launching vehicles.
  • Rockets launched from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 (Space Shuttle and, in the past, Saturn V and Saturn IB) are set up vertically in the Vehicle Assembly Building on a Mobile Launcher Platform which sets on top of a Crawler-Transporter, which slowly drives to the launch site. A similar system is used at LC-41 and LC-40 of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as well as ELA-3 at Kourou.
  • In the 1920s, Hermann Oberth stated a similar method which had the rocket float vertically on a barge, which he used in the movie Frau im Mond. This has never been used, although it was seriously considered for use at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 for the Saturn V. It was rejected for that application due to the instability of the top-heavy unfuelled rocket and gantry.
  • At Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, the Titan series of rockets were set up vertically in a gantry in a windowless building at SLC-4, the outside walls of which would be rolled away just at launch. This was done for purposes of military secrecy. Similar systems are used at SLC-6, for the Delta IV rocket, ELA-1 & 2 at Kourou for the Ariane 1-4, and Kagoshima for the M-V.
  • Zenit 3SL rockets of Sea Launch are transported horizontally by sea aboard the Ocean Odyssey converted oil rig, which is then used to erect and launch them.
  • Dnepr rockets are transported vertically and then inserted into a silo.

German test launch. ... Peenemündes position in Germany Peenemünde is a village in the northeast of the German island of Usedom. ... Illustration of the Buran Shuttle on an Energiya booster rocket Buran_Energia on the launch pad at Baikonur Buran_Energia on the pad Buran on liftoff Buran on touchdown Buran piggybacked on an An-225 carrier The Soviet reusable spacecraft program Buran (Бура́н meaning snowstorm or blizzard... Volgograd (Russian: ), formerly called Tsaritsyn (Russian: ) (1598–1925) and Stalingrad (Russian: ) (1925–1961) is a city in and the administrative center of Volgograd Oblast, Russia. ... Merritt Island and Kennedy Space Center The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is the NASA space vehicle launch facility (spaceport) at Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island in Florida, United States. ... Launch Complex Plan - 1963 Launch Complex 39A Launch Complex 39B with Discovery shuttle Launch Complex 39 actually refers to LC39A and LC39B at the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island in Florida, USA, which are currently launch pads for the space shuttle. ... NASAs Space Shuttle, officially called Space Transportation System (STS), is the United States governments current manned launch vehicle. ... This article is about the rocket. ... The Saturn IB was an uprated version of the Saturn I, which was the first manned launch vehicle that was not directly derived from an ICBM (though its tanks were derived from the Jupiter and Redstone tanks, and its first stage engines were Navaho derived). ... The vast Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center (2005). ... A Crawler-Transporter carries a MLP atop. ... Crawler-Transporter #2 in a December 2004 road test after track shoe replacement. ... An aerial view of LC-41. ... Launch Complex 40. ... The Bumper V-2 was the first missile launched at Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950. ... Kourou is a town and commune in French Guiana. ... Oberth (in front) with fellow ABMA employees. ... Frau im Mond is a science fiction silent movie released in 1929, and is often considered to be one of the first serious science fiction films. ... Vandenberg Air Force Base is a base with a spaceport, located in Santa Barbara County, California. ... Titan is a family of U.S. expendable rockets. ... First launch of a Boeing Delta IV Medium+ (4,2) from SLC-6 on June 27, 2006 (Official photo by Thom Baur for Boeing) Space Launch Complex-6 (SLC-6, nicknamed Slick Six) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was a launch pad and support area designed for the... Delta EELV family of launch vehicles (US Govt) The Delta IV family of rockets are EELVs (evolved expendable launch vehicles) built by Boeing IDS. They come in five versions: medium, medium+ (4,2), medium+ (5,2), medium+ (5,4), and heavy. ... Kourou is a town and commune in French Guiana. ... The Ariane 4 Ariane is a series of a European civilian expendable launch vehicles for space launch use. ... Kagoshima (鹿児島市; -shi) the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture at the southwest tip of the Kyushu island of Japan. ... M-V rocket with the ASTRO-E satellite (Febr. ... Zenit-3SL is three stage version of Ukrainian Zenit rocket, created for and used by Sea Launch consortium. ... Sea Launch command ship Sea Launch Commander Sea Launch launch platform Ocean Odyssey Sea Launch is a spacecraft launch service, which uses mobile sea platform for equatorial launches of commercial payloads on top of specialized Zenit-3SL rockets. ... Ocean Odyssey drilling rig publicity photo Ocean Odyssey (Sea Launch) at port The Ocean Odyssey was a self-propelled, semi-submersible drilling rig which was rebuilt as a mobile spacecraft launch platform and is currently used by Sea Launch for equatorial Pacific Ocean launches. ... The Dnepr space launch vehicle (Ukrainian: ; Russian: , named after the Dnieper River), is a converted ICBM used for launching artificial satellites into orbit, operated by launch service provider ISC Kosmotras (established in 1997). ...

See also


Rockets (including missiles) can be launched from the following: for a launch into an orbital spaceflight and beyond: a launch pad, including a floating platform (see San Marco platform, Sea Launch) for the launch into a suborbital flight also: a missile silo a mobile launcher vehicle a submarine air launch... Rockets (including missiles) can be launched from the following: for a launch into an orbital spaceflight and beyond: a launch pad, including a floating platform (see San Marco platform, Sea Launch) for the launch into a suborbital flight also: a missile silo a mobile launcher vehicle a submarine air launch...

Merritt Island launch sites  v  d  e 
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (all except LC-39)
Kennedy Space Center (LC-39)
LC-1 | LC-2 | LC-3 | LC-4 | LC-5 | LC-6 | LC-9 | LC-10 | LC-11 | LC-12 | LC-13 | LC-14 | LC-15 | LC-16 | LC-17 | LC-18 | LC-19 | LC-20 | LC-21 | LC-22 | LC-25 | LC-26 | LC-29 | LC-30 | LC-31 | LC-32 | LC-34 | LC-36 | LC-37 | LC-39 | LC-40 | LC-41 | LC-43 | LC-45 | LC-46 | LC-47


Atlantic Missile Range drop zone | Grand Turk Island drop zone | Mobile Launch Area | SLBM Launch Area | Patrick AFB | Shuttle Landing Facility | Runway 30/12 Merritt Islands two spaceports are shown side-by-side on this map. ... The Bumper V-2 was the first missile launched at Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950. ... Merritt Island and Kennedy Space Center (shown in white). ... Launch Complex 1 (LC1) is a deactivated US Air Force launch site located on Cape Canaveral, United States at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. ... Launch Complex 2 (LC2) is a deactivated US Air Force launch site located on Cape Canaveral, United States at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. ... Mercury-Redstone 1 at LC-5. ... An atlas rocket launches a manned Mercury spacecraft from LC-14. ... The first stage of the Boeing Delta II rocket, slated to launch NASAs Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), is lifted into a vertical position for installation into the mobile service tower at Pad 17B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 17 is a launch site at Merritt Island... The launch of Gemini 6A from LC-19. ... Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Compex 26 (LC-26) was a launch site at Merritt Island, Florida. ... A Saturn I at Pad 34, ready for mission SA-3 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 (LC-34) is a launch site at Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, Florida. ... An Atlas III launches from LC-36B . Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 36 (LC-36) is a launch complex at Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, Florida. ... The launch of GOES-N atop a Delta IV, from LC-37B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 37 (LC-37) is a launch complex at Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, Florida. ... The aerial view of Launch Complex 39. ... Launch Complex 40. ... An aerial view of LC-41. ... Patrick Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base located near Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA. Patrick Air Force Base is home to the 45th Space Wing. ... The NASA Shuttle Landing Facility (IATA: TTS, ICAO: KTTS) is an airport located in the city of Titusville in Brevard County, Florida, USA. It is a part of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and is used by the NASA Space Shuttle, military aircraft and civilian aircraft. ...

Vandenberg Air Force Base Launch Sites
SLC-1 | SLC-2 | SLC-3 | SLC-4 | SLC-5 | SLC-6 | SLC-8 | SLC-10
LC-394 | LC-395 | LC-4300 | LC-576 | LC-75 | ABRES | BMRS | Bomarc | CLF | HP-06 | LE-6 | LE-7 | LE-8 | LF-02 | LF-03 | LF-04 | LF-05 | LF-06 | LF-07 | LF-08 | LF-09 | LF-10 | LF-21 | LF-22 | LF-23 | LF-24 | LF-25 | LF-26 | OSTF | PLC-C | SLTF | TP-01
Runway 12/30 | Point Arguello Warning Area Drop Zone | Western Test Range

  Results from FactBites:
 
Enniscorthy Launch Pad (559 words)
Launch Pad, in association with Wexford County Council and Scallta Media, is now inviting submissions for the second issue of The Scaldy Detail.
Launch Pad’s mission is to provide a platform for aspiring writers in the area where they can meet to play their songs and tunes, read their poems, stories, and memoirs.
It is a triumph of Launch Pad that it has managed to provide not just a series of places where people can gather to listen and perform, but also places of such warm ambience and understated style.
Shuttle Atlantis heads to launch pad - Boston.com (413 words)
Space shuttle Atlantis was hauled to the launch pad early Wednesday, a major step toward a mission to resume construction of the international space station for the first time in three years.
The pre-dawn trip to the launch pad was delayed twice this week because of stormy weather.
NASA managers are wary of launching the shuttle too late in the window since a Russian Soyuz vehicle with three crew members is scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan on a trip to the international space station in mid-September.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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