• Post category:SpaceX
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Currently, SpaceX utilises 4 launch pads for their orbital rocket launches and two suborbital test launch facilities as well.

SpaceX South Texas / Boca Chica launch site

This site is also referred as “Starbase” by SpaceX. It is SpaceX’s fourth active launch facility, and its first private facility. Initially the plan was to use this launch site for meeting tight launch windows, but but in early 2018, SpaceX announced a change of plans, stating that the launch site would be used exclusively for SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle, Starship. The launch site has been the main production and testing site of the Starship. All Starship vehicles have been constructed here besides the Mk2 prototype, which was built in Florida but never completed, and eventually scrapped.

Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40)

This is a US government owned launch site and has been used by NASA for launch of Titan family of rockets. The first launch from SLC-40 was the maiden flight of the Titan IIIC (June 18, 1965). After 2007, the US Air Force leased the complex to SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. As of May 2021, there have been 71 launches of the Falcon 9 from the complex. The site was heavily damaged following the September 2016 Amos-6 incident, due to a catastrophic failure during a static fire test. The complex was repaired and returned to operational status in December 2017 for the CRS-13 mission.

SLC-40 during launch of SpaceX CRS-13 in December 2017, after repair and upgrade works to the pad between 2016–2017
SLC-40 during launch of SpaceX CRS-13 in December 2017, after repair and upgrade works to the pad between 2016–2017

Vandenberg Space Launch Complex 4

This launch facility has got two pads (SLC 4E and SLC 4W) which are both used by SpaceX, one for launch and the other for landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage. The complex was previously used by Atlas and Titan rockets between 1963 and 2005. The first launch occurred on 14 August 1964, when a KH-7 satellite was launched by an Atlas-Agena D. As of June 2021, SLC 4E has witnessed 83 launches and SLC 4W having got 93 rockets launched from its pad.

Falcon 9 with ten Iridium NEXT communications satellites at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Falcon 9 with ten Iridium NEXT communications satellites at Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A)

This important launch pad has brought some great rocket launches. The massive Saturn V as well as the Space Shuttle were launched from LC-39A. This launch pad was often used for crewed missions of NASA and has now been modified to support launch vehicles of SpaceX after a lease agreement between SpaceX and NASA that gave it a 20-year exclusive lease on LC-39A. SpaceX planned to launch their launch vehicles from the pad and build a new hangar nearby. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, stated that he wanted to shift most of SpaceX’s NASA launches to LC-39A, including commercial cargo and crew missions to the International Space Station.

Apollo 11 launch at LC-39A (1969)
Apollo 11 launch at LC-39A (1969). Credits: NASA

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