Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 13
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|Launch site||Cape Canaveral Air Force Station|
|Operator||US Air Force
|First launch||Atlas B 4B
2 August 1958
|Last launch||Atlas Agena D 5505A
7 April 1978
|Associated rockets||Atlas B
Launch Complex 13 (LC-13) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida is a deactivated launch complex used by Atlas rockets and missiles between 1958 and 1978. It is the third-most southern of the complexes known as missile row, between LC-12 and LC-14. With Complexes 11, 12 and 14, it featured a more robust design than many contemporary pads, due to the greater power of the Atlas compared to other rockets of the time. It was larger, and featured a 6 metres (20 ft) tall concrete launch pedestal, and a reinforced blockhouse. The rockets were delivered to the launch pad by a ramp on the southwest side of the launch pedestal.
LC-13 was originally used for development test launches of the Atlas ICBM. Atlas B, D, E and F missiles were tested from the complex. One on-pad explosion occurred, the launch of Missile 51D in March 1960, which put LC-13 out of commission for six months. Between February 1962 and October 1963 the pad was converted for use by the Atlas-Agena. The modifications were more extensive than the conversions of LC-12 and LC-14, with the mobile service tower being demolished and replaced with a new, larger tower.
LC-13 was originally controlled by the United States Air Force. It was transferred to NASA in 1964 and then back to the Air Force in 1970.
On 10 August 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 was launched from LC-13. It photographed proposed landing sites for Apollo and Surveyor spacecraft on the Moon, and returned the first pictures of the Earth from lunar orbit.
Several classified payloads, believed to include Canyon and Rhyolite satellites, were launched from LC-13 for the National Reconnaissance Office. The last launch from LC-13 was conducted on 7 April 1978, using an Atlas-Agena.
It was the most-used and longest-serving of the original four Atlas pads. On 16 April 1984, Launch Complex 13 was added to the US National Register of Historic Places; however it was not maintained, and gradually deteriorated. On 6 August 2005 the mobile service tower was demolished as a safety precaution, due to structural damage by corrosion. The structure was so unstable that it could not be safely dismantled, and had to be toppled by a controlled explosion before it could be taken apart while horizontal. This has since become the standard method of dismantling launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, and was used in the demolition of SLC-41, SLC-36 and SLC-40. The blockhouse was demolished in 2012.
In July, 2014 SpaceX was reported to be evaluating the use of SLC-13 for use as a Return To Launch Site (RTLS) vertical-landing facility for reusable first-stage boosters of the Reusable Falcon 9 (F9R) and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles that are launched from SpaceX-leased launch pads at Cape Canaveral AFS and Kennedy Space Center.
- Encyclopedia Astronautica - Launch Complex 13
- Spaceflight Now News: Historic Cape Canaveral Pad Toppled, 6 Aug 05
- Bergin, Chris (2014-07-28). "SpaceX Roadmap building on its rocket business revolution". NASAspaceflight. Retrieved 2014-07-28. "At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment"