Mobile Launcher Platform 1

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A Saturn V with Apollo 10 rolls out to LC-39B on ML-3

Mobile Launcher Platform 1 or MLP-1, formerly Mobile Launcher 3 or ML-3 is one of three Mobile Launcher Platforms used at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39. Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches were conducted from MLP-1 between 1969 and 2009. It was modified for use in the Constellation program but ended up being used only once for the Ares I-X launch before the cancellation of the program.

Apollo/Saturn V[edit]

ML-3 (right) under construction, along with ML-1 and ML-2. The VAB is on the left

MLP-1 was originally constructed as a Mobile Launcher for the Saturn V rocket, and was designated ML-3, or LUT-3. It was built by Ingalls Iron Works. Construction began in 1964, and was completed with the installation of the Launch Umbilical Tower hammerhead crane on 1 March 1965.[1] The swing arms, which were constructed by Hayes International were added at a later date.

Following completion, ML-3 was used for five manned Apollo launches; Apollo 10, Apollo 13, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17.

Space Shuttle and Project Constellation[edit]

Space Shuttle Columbia rolls out to LC-39A atop MLP-1, ahead of STS-107.

Following the launch of Apollo 17, ML-3 was the first of the Mobile Launchers to be converted for use by the Space Shuttle. The Launch Umbilical Tower was dismantled and later partially reassembled on LC-39A[2] as that pad's Fixed Service Structure (FSS), and the base of the launch platform was modified to accommodate the locations of engines on the Shuttle. The platform was redesignated MLP-1.

In total, MLP-1 was used for fifty two Shuttle launches, between 1981 and 2009. It was used for the first Space Shuttle launch, STS-1, in April 1981. Following the launch of STS-119 in March 2009, it was transferred to Project Constellation. The platform was used only for the Ares I-X and was going to be disassembled after the launch.[3] The Project Constellation was though cancelled and the ML was left unused.

Following the shuttle program, usable parts from MLP-1 were removed and stored in the Vehicle Assembly Building, with no plans to use the platform again.[4]

Launch history[5][edit]

Date/Time (GMT) Rocket Mission Remarks
18 May 1969, 16:49 Saturn V SA-505 Apollo 10 Manned flight to lunar orbit
11 April 1970, 19:13 Saturn V SA-508 Apollo 13 Manned Lunar landing, converted to circumlunar flight after oxygen tank exploded
26 July 1971, 13:34 Saturn V SA-510 Apollo 15 Manned Lunar landing
16 April 1972, 17:54 Saturn V SA-511 Apollo 16 Manned Lunar landing
7 December 1972, 05:33 Saturn V SA-512 Apollo 17 Manned lunar landing, final Apollo Lunar mission
12 April 1981, 12:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-1 Maiden flight of Space Shuttle, test flight
12 November 1981, 15:10 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-2 Test flight
22 March 1982, 16:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-3 Test flight
27 June 1982, 15:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-4 Final test flight
11 November 1982, 12:19 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-5 Deployed SBS-3 and Anik C3
18 June 1983, 11:33 Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 Deployed Anik C2 and Palapa B1
28 November 1983, 16:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-9 Scientific mission; first Spacelab mission
6 April 1984, 13:58 Space Shuttle Challenger STS-41C Deployed LDEF, repaired SolarMax
5 October 1984, 11:03 Space Shuttle Challenger STS-41G Deployed ERBS
24 January 1985, 19:50 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51C Classified mission; deployed USA-8
12 April 1985, 13:59 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51D Deployed Anik C1 and Syncom IV-1
17 June 1985, 11:33 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51G Deployed Arabsat 1B, Morelos I and Telstar 3D
27 August 1985, 10:58 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51I Deployed Aussat 1, ASC-1 and Syncom IV-4; repaired Syncom IV-3
6 November 1985, 17:44 Space Shuttle Challenger STS-61A Scientific mission; performed experiments with NASA/ESA Spacelab
12 January 1986, 11:55 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-61C Deployed Satcom K1
2 December 1988, 14:30 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-27 Classified mission; deployed USA-34 (recently declassified as Lacrosse 1)
4 May 1989, 18:48 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-30 Deployed Magellan probe
18 October 1989, 16:53 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-34 Deployed Galileo probe
28 February 1990, 07:50 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-36 Classified mission; deployed USA-53
15 November 1990, 23:48 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-38 Classified mission; deployed USA-67
5 April 1991, 14:22 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-37 Deployed Compton Gamma Ray Observatory
2 August 1991, 15:01 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-43 Deployed TDRS-E
24 November 1991, 23:44 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-44 Deployed DSP satellite
24 March 1992, 13:13 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-45 Scientific mission; performed experiments with ATLAS-1
31 July 1992, 13:56 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-46 Deployed ESA's EURECA and TSS satellite
2 December 1992, 13:24 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-53 Deployed classified DoD-1
8 April 1993, 05:29 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-56 Scientific mission; performed experiments with ATLAS-2
18 October 1993, 14:53 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-58 Scientific mission; performed experiements concerning physiologicial effects of spaceflight
4 March 1994, 13:53 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-62 Scientific mission; performed microgravity experiements
30 September 1994, 11:16 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-68 Scientific mission; performed experiments with SRL-2
2 March 1995, 06:38 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-67 Scientific mission; performed experiments with Astro-2
7 September 1995, 15:09 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-69 Scientific mission; performed experiments with WSF and Spartan 201
11 January 1996, 09:41 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-72 Scientific mission; captured and returned SFU to Earth
19 May 1996, 10:30 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-77 Scientific mission; performed research aboard the SPACEHAB module
16 September 1996, 08:54 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-79 First shuttle docking with completed Mir (4th docking overall)
11 February 1997, 08:55 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-82 Serviced Hubble Space Telescope
1 July 1997, 18:02 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-94 Scientific mission; performed experiments with Spacelab
19 November 1997, 19:46 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-87 Scientific mission; performed experiments with USMP-4 and SPARTAN-201
2 June 1998, 22:06 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-91 Final shuttle docking with Mir
23 July 1999, 04:31 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-93 Deployed Chandra
19 May 2000, 10:11 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-101 ISS resupply
1 December 2000, 03:06 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-97 ISS assembly; delivered solar arrays
19 April 2001, 18:40 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-100 ISS assembly; delivered Canadarm2
5 December 2001 22:19 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-108 ISS resupply and crew rotation
5 June 2002 21:22 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-111 ISS resupply and crew rotation
January 16, 2003 15:39 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 Spacehab mission, disintegrated during reentry
4 July 2006, 18:37 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-121 Test new safety and repair techniques implemented after Columbia disaster. ISS logistics; delivered MPLM
10 December 2006, 01:47 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-116 ISS assembly; delivered P5 truss segment
8 August 2007, 22:36 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-118 ISS assembly; delivered S5 truss segment, ESP-3, and a replacement CMG
7 February 2008, 19:45 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-122 ISS assembly; delivered Columbus
15 March 2009, 23:43 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-119 ISS assembly; delivered S6 truss segment
28 October 2009 15:30 Ares I-X Final launch from MLP-1

See Also[edit]

A Saturn V with Apollo 10 rolls out to LC-39B on ML-3


  1. ^ Benson, Charles D; Faherty, William B. "The Swing-Arm Controversy". Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations. NASA History Office. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  2. ^ Weitering, Hanneke. "In Photos: NASA's Historic Launch Pad 39A, from Apollo to Shuttle to SpaceX".
  3. ^ Ochoa-Gonzales, Frank (2009-04-17). "Space Shuttle Program Hands over Launch Platform to Constellation". NASA. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
  4. ^ KSC, Anna Heiney:. "NASA - Mobile Launcher Platforms Prepped for New Generation". Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  5. ^ "Designations". Retrieved 2018-08-28.

Further reading[edit]

  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Saturn V". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "STS". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-03-25.