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Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to KSC

For more than 50 years, the US Air Force's continuous participation in missile and space operations has been the responsibility of the 45th Space Wing and its predecessor organizations. The Wing's lineage dates back to the Air Force Division of the Joint Long Range Proving Ground, an Air Force/Army/Navy organization which was established on 1 October 1949 to manage missile testing and launch operations on the Eastern Range. Upon its activation in 1949, the Air Force Division assumed responsibility for the Joint Long Range Proving Ground Base (formerly the Banana River Naval Air Station, a World War II seaplane patrol and training base). On 16 May 1950, the Air Force Division was renamed the Long Range Proving Ground Division, and it assumed sole responsibility for the Proving Ground. The Long Range Proving Ground Base was renamed Patrick Air Force Base in honor of Major General Mason M. Patrick on 1 August 1950. From those humble beginnings, the Division and its successors coordinated and managed the development of the Eastern Range, which soon became one of the busiest and most important missile and space support ranges in the world.

Launch Complexes 11, 12 & 13

These complexes were built for the ATLAS ballistic missile program. The sites were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. Complex 11 supported 28 ATLAS launches and five ATLAS Advanced Ballistic Reentry System flights between 19 July 1958 and 2 April 1964. Complex 12 supported its first ATLAS launch on 10 January 1958, and it supported nine RANGER missions and four MARINER missions between 12 August 1961 and 15 June 1967. 

Three pairs of VELA satellites were launched from Complex 13 before the site was turned over to NASA in 1966. Following a series of civilian ATLAS/AGENA missions, Complex 13 was returned to the Air Force in March 1968. The site supported 11 ATLAS/AGENA space flights for the Defense Department between 6 August 1968 and 7 April 1978. In all, Complex 13 supported 51 ATLAS and ATLAS/AGENA launches. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967, and Complex 13 was deactivated in April 1978. Complex 14 and the gantry on Complex 13 were declared national historic landmarks in April 1984.

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LC 13 ramp, gantry & launch stand

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LC 13 gantry service structure

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LC 13 blockhouse, gantry & launch stand

Complex 13 supported its first ATLAS launch on 2 August 1958. After its final ATLAS missile launch on 13 February 1962, Complex 13 was converted into an ATLAS/AGENA launch complex.

 

Launch Complex 14

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Complex 14 in 1963 (NASA)

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LC 14 Blockhouse 

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LC 14 layout

Complex 14 was built in the late 1950's to support Atlas launches. Up until its deactivation in February of 1967, it supported a total of 32 Atlas and Atlas-Agena launches. These included four manned launches for the Mercury program, and seven unmanned launches for the Gemini program. After years of exposure to the weather and salt air, the service structure and launch stand were razed in December of 1976. Complex 14 was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 16, 1984. 

 

Launch Complex 19

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Complex 19, James A. McDivitt and Edward H. White II is launched on Gemini IV in 1965 (NASA)

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Prior to launch, the rocket stood on top of the platform. Below the platform is the flame bucket

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The part of the erector seen here was the "White Room" where astronauts were inserted into the capsule

 

Complex 19 (along with Complexes 15, 16, and 20) were built in the late 1950ís to support launches of Titan I and Titan II missiles. By 1963, Complex 19 was turned over to NASA and rebuilt to support Titan II launches for the Gemini program. It supported a total of twelve Gemini missions until its deactivation on April 10, 1967. Complex 19 was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 16, 1984.

 

Apollo Saturn 1B Launch Complex 34 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

On January 27, 1967, a simulated flight was to be performed with the Apollo 204 vehicle, which should have later been launched as Apollo 1. This test, known as an "Overall Test Plugs Out", simulated an actual flight as closely as possible. A countdown would be conducted, all communication and instrumentation systems would be activated, and the umbilical that connected the space vehicle to the launch pad would be disconnected.

The launch vehicle was in place on the launch pad at Complex 34. In the capsule were Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee. Having entered the capsule after one o'clock P.M., the three were still there at 6:30 P.M. with the countdown stalled at T-10 minutes (communications problems had plagued the test all day). Shortly after 6:30 P.M., disaster struck. A small electrical fire, fed by nylon netting and the 16.2 p.s.i. of pure oxygen in the cabin, reached a blaze. Less than a minute after the initial report of a fire in the capsule, the crew of Apollo 1 was dead.

The first manned Apollo mission (Apollo 7) was later launched from Complex 34. The Complex was deactivated shortly thereafter. Today, little more than the blockhouse, the ruins of a few support buildings, and the launch pedestal are left to bear silent witness to the sacrifice of the first Apollo astronauts. 

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Memorial plaque 

Saturn 1B Launch Pedestal

"Abandon in Place"

Saturn 1B Launch Pedestal

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Saturn 1B Launch Pedestal

Saturn 1B Launch Pedestal

Saturn 1B Launch Pedestal

Wall of the ECS (Environmental Control System) building

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Blast Deflectors

Complex 34 Blast Deflector

Blast Deflector Transfer Tracks

Aerial view of Complex 34 as it appeared in 1967. The 310 foot high service structure is in place at the launch stand. (NASA)