Cape Canaveral's historic LC-17 launch towers demolished

  |   Tech News

A historic launch site from which more than 300 rockets have blasted off since the 1950s was demolished this morning to make way for a new commercial operator. Space Launch Complex 17 (long known as LC-17) was built in 1956 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and supported a total of 325 Thor and Delta rocket launches in its decades-long career.

With a dramatic countdown and shouts of ‘fire in the hole,’ the two launch towers came crashing down at 7 a.m. (ET) on Thursday. Industry experts have hailed the event as both the end of an era and a new beginning, as Moon Express prepares to take over the site to build its future moon lander. The site, initially designated Launch Complex 17, was built to support tests of the US’s first operational ballistic missile, Thor.

Though the first few launch attempts ended in failure – with the first, in 1957, involving an explosion on the launch pad – the site saw decades of successes and breakthroughs in spaceflight. Its first successful launch was on September 20 of that year, according to NASA SpaceFlight. After hundreds of Thor and Delta launches, used to send probes, satellites, and other craft beyond Earth’s atmosphere, operations at LC-17 officially ceased in 2011.

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