Program Overview

The History of the NASA Kennedy Space Centre
The Kennedy Space Centre has been in use since 1968 and is the launch site of every human space flight done by NASA. Over the years of its use the Kennedy Space Centre has evolved to meet the growing needs of the space program. The history of the NASA Kennedy Space Centre can be dated back to the early 1960s.
In 1961 President John F Kennedy set a goal of having a lunar landing before the 1970s. This led to NASA having to expand its operations and buy more land in order to launch space missions. By 1962 NASA had acquired enough land to start building the Kennedy Space Centre which at the time was known as the Launch Operations Centre. The centre was renamed on November 29, 1963 by Executive Order 11129 after the death of John Kennedy.
In November 1962 the construction of the large Launch Complex 39 began. This complex was created to house the Saturn V rockets which would be needed to complete the missions to the moon. In addition to hangars which could hold the Saturn V rockets 3 mobile launcher platforms were constructed. There is also a launch control centre and a news media site within the complex. From 1967 to 1973 13 Saturn V lift-offs occurred from this complex.
In the 1970’s the Kennedy Space Centre launched the last of the Saturn V rockets and the last of the Apollo program missions. The last Saturn V launch in 1973 used Pad 39A to put the Skylab space station into orbit. In 1976 The VAB’s south parking area was converted into the site of the Third Century America. This was a technology and science display which was put up to celebrate the US Bicentennial. In the late 1970s launch complex 39 was reconfigured as it needed to support a space shuttle. During this time 2 orbit processing facilities were built as hangars. A third one was added in the 1980’s.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s NASA considered building a new launch site which was capable of handling the demands of the new space shuttle. It was announced in April 1972 that NASA would continue to use the Kennedy Space Centre for shuttle launches. On April 12, 1981 the Columbia was launched from the centre.
The Kennedy Space Centre has a shuttle landing facility which measures 2.9 miles and the first landing here took place on February 11, 1984 by the space shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986 the centre experienced its first manned launch failure when the Challenger, after 24 successful flights, was torn apart 73 seconds after the launch sequence. This was the first shuttle launched from Pad 39B and 7 crew members were killed.
Space shuttle launches continued from the Kennedy Space Centre until 2010 when the space shuttle program was put on hold. Pad 39A has been left in its original state of launch configuration. However, Pad 39B has been completely dismantled and only the base remains.

Comments are closed.