Launch pad dating back to early days of space program demolished

Thor-Able launch from LC-17 – via NSF L2

The famous launch towers at the southern end of the Cape Canaveral air force station in Florida, which sent hundreds of rockets into space, were demolished in controlled explosions yesterday.

Having supported 325 launches over 61 years, Complex 17 was activated in 1957 to test Thor ballistic missiles and later launched the first Global Positioning System communications satellites.

NASA's first three Mars rovers - Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity - were launched there, as were dozens of Global Positioning System navigation-related flights and numerous scientific, commercial and military payloads, a report from Space Flight Now said.

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In 2004 the first probe to orbit Mercury was also launched from the complex. The last time there was a launch from either one of the towers was almost seven years ago.

The towers were in service for 60 years.

The site will now be occupied by Moon Express, a private company developing small lunar landers that NASA may use to send science instruments to the lunar surface in the next few years, according to Florida Today.

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