Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41

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Space Launch Complex 41
Atlas V 551 at Launch Pad 41.jpg
An aerial view of SLC-41. The Atlas V on the pad is the one used to launch New Horizons to Pluto.
Launch site Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
Location 28°35′00″N 80°34′59″W / 28.58333°N 80.58306°W / 28.58333; -80.58306Coordinates: 28°35′00″N 80°34′59″W / 28.58333°N 80.58306°W / 28.58333; -80.58306
Short name SLC-41
Operator United States Air Force
Total launches 84
Launch pad(s) 1
Min / max
orbital inclination
28° - 57°
Launch history
Status Active
First launch 21 December 1965
Titan IIIC / LES-3/4
Last launch 20 January 2017
Atlas V / SBIR-GEO 3
A Titan IV on LC-41 in 1996. The steel towers visible at the left and right are part of the lightning protection system.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), previously Launch Complex 41 (LC-41), is an active launch site at the north end of Cape Canaveral, Florida at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[1][2] The site is currently used by United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Atlas V launches. Previously, it had been used by the Air Force, for Titan III and Titan IV launches. In the future, the pad will be used to launch the partly-reusable Vulcan launch vehicle. It is expected to launch for the first time in 2019.

Titan III[edit]

The Titan III launch facilities at CCAFS were built as part of an Integrate-Transfer-Launch approach intended to enable a rapid launch rate. Titan vehicles were assembled and integrated with their payloads off-pad and then transported by rail to one of the two pads. The Titan III facilities included both LC-40 and LC-41, assembly buildings including the Vertical Integration Building, and the first rail line at the Cape.[3] The facilities were completed in 1964, and the first launch from LC-41 was of a Titan IIIC, carrying four separate payloads, on December 21, 1965.

Titan IV[edit]

LC-41 was also the pad used for the maiden flight of the Titan IV. The last Titan launch from LC-41 was on April 9, 1999, when a Titan IVB launched the USA 142 early warning satellite. The IUS upper stage failed to separate, leaving the payload stranded in a useless GTO orbit.

Atlas V[edit]

After the last Titan launch, the complex was renovated, and since 2002, LC-41 has been used by ULA for Atlas V launches. The maiden flight of Atlas V launched from LC-41 on August 21, 2002. The Atlas V booster lifted Hot Bird 6, a Eutelsat geostationary communications spacecraft built around a Spacebus 3000B3 bus.

Until 2005,[citation needed] Atlas V rockets were assembled vertically on a mobile launch platform in the Vertical Integration Facility, once located to the south of the pad. The platform was transported to the launch pad on rails, about a day before launch.

Modifications for supporting human spaceflight[edit]

An Atlas V on the pad, with construction on the crew access tower paused for a launch. (December 2015)

In September 2015, pad modifications began to support human spaceflight via the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule.[4][5]

Modifications include the addition of a launch service tower to provide access to the capsule for "pre-launch processing, crew access, and safety egress systems should the need to evacuate Starliner on the pad occur."[4]


In addition to satellites, Titan vehicles launched several probes from LC-41 in the 1970s, including the Helios probes to study the Sun, the Viking probes to Mars, and the Voyager planetary flyby and deep-space probes. More recent probes have also been launched from LC-41 using the Atlas V: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in December 2004, the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto in January 2006, The Juno mission to Jupiter in August 2011,[6] and The Mars Science Laboratory to Mars in November 2011.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan (1998-02-22). "Issue 350". Jonathan's Space Report. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  2. ^ USAF Supports NASA's Dual Lunar Exploratory Missions Archived June 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Roy McCullough (September 2001). "Missiles at the Cape". US Army Corps of Engineers. 
  4. ^ a b Gebhardt, Chris (2015-10-08). "Canaveral and KSC pads: New designs for space access". Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ 45th Space Wing Supports Successful Atlas V Juno Launch
  7. ^ The Associated Press (November 26, 2011). "NASA Launches Sophisticated Rover on Journey to Mars". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ NASA Offers Media Access To Mars-Bound Rover On Aug. 12

External links[edit]