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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Launch Complex 39A

As we drove past Shuttle Launch complex 39A we were just outside the fenced boundary and had a great view of the pad. This is the launch pad where all 6 lunar landing missions left Earth from as well as 2 of the other 3 manned lunar missions. It was refurbished in the late 1970s to support Space Shuttle launches with the old Saturn V launch tower being removed from the mobile launch platform and installed here on the launch pad. In this image, you can see the rotating service structure on the left side which rolls on tracks to cover the orbiter once it arrives at the pad so that ground crews can get into the payload bay of the orbiter. The tower on the right stands next to the orbiter and attached external tank and solid rocket motors with access arms to reach important areas of the vehicle including the white room which is visible near the center of the image on an arm that rotates up against the orbiter after it is parked at the tower. The white room allows access to the cabin of the orbiter and is where the astronauts climb into the orbiter on launch day. The tall white tower that extends out the image at top is a lightning rod. Refere to my image from a few days ago of Atlantis on launch pad 39B to see how the shuttle fits into the launch complex - the rotating service structure was in place next to the orbiter in that picture. This picture was taken with the kit lens on my 20D at a focal length of 55mm with an exposure of 1/500 seconds at f/8, ISO 400.

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