Mobile Launcher Platform 3

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Space Shuttle Atlantis atop MLP-3 during rollout ahead of STS-110

Mobile Launcher Platform 3 or MLP-3, formerly Mobile Launcher 1 or ML-1 is one of three Mobile Launcher Platforms used at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was used for Saturn V and Saturn IB launches, and later for the Space Shuttle.


A Saturn V with Apollo 11 atop is rolled out atop ML-1

MLP-3 was originally constructed between 1963 and 1964 as a Mobile Launcher for the Saturn V rocket, and was designated ML-1, or LUT-1. It was the first Mobile Launcher to be constructed, and was built by Ingalls Iron Works.[1] The swing arms, which were constructed by Hayes International, were added at a later date.

A Saturn IB with ASTP using ML-1 with the Milkstool at LC-39B

The first launch from ML-1 was the maiden flight of the Saturn V, and the first launch from LC-39, Apollo 4. Following this, it was used for two manned Apollo launches: Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. After NASA decided to move Saturn IB launches from LC-34 to LC-39, it was modified by the addition of a structure known as the Milkstool, which allowed the Saturn IB to use the same Launch Umbilical Tower as the much larger Saturn V. Three manned flights to Skylab, and the Apollo launch for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, were conducted from ML-1 using the Milkstool.

Prior to the scrapping of the LUT in 2004, there was a campaign to rebuild and preserve it as a memorial to Project Apollo.[2] The Crew access arm is preserved at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Space Shuttle[edit]

Following the launch of Skylab, ML-1 was the last Mobile Launcher to be converted for use by the Space Shuttle. The Launch Umbilical Tower and Milkstool were dismantled and placed into storage, and the base of the launch platform was modified to accommodate the locations of engines on the shuttle. The platform was redesignated MLP-3.

In total, MLP-3 was used for twenty-nine Shuttle launches, starting in 1990. It is the least used of the three Mobile Launcher Platforms.

Launch history[edit]

Date/Time (UTC) Rocket Mission Remarks
9 November 1967, 12:00 Saturn V SA-501 Apollo 4 Maiden flight of Saturn V
21 December 1968, 12:51 Saturn V SA-503 Apollo 8 First crewed flight to selenocentric orbit
16 July 1969, 13:32 Saturn V SA-506 Apollo 11 First crewed lunar landing
25 May 1973, 13:00 Saturn IB SA-206 Skylab 2 Crewed LEO research flight
28 July 1973, 11:10 Saturn IB SA-207 Skylab 3 Crewed LEO research flight
16 November 1973, 14:01 Saturn IB SA-208 Skylab 4 Crewed LEO research flight
15 July 1975, 19:50 Saturn IB SA-210 ASTP Apollo ASTP, final flight of a Saturn rocket
9 January 1990, 12:35:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-32
2 December 1990, 06:49:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-35
5 June 1991, 13:24:51 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-40
12 September 1991, 23:11:04 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-48
22 January 1992, 14:52:33 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-42
25 June 1992, 16:12:23 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-50
22 October 1992, 14:05:53 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-52
26 April 1993, 14:50 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-55
12 September 1993, 11:45 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-51
3 February 1994, 12:10:00 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-60
8 July 1994, 16:43:01 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-65
3 November 1994, 16:59:43.060 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-66
27 June 1995, 19:32:19 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-71
20 October 1995, 13:53:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-73
22 February 1996, 20:18:00 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-75
20 June 1996, 14:49:00.0075 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-78
19 November 1996, 19:55:47 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-80
4 April 1997, 19:20:32.074 Space Shuttle Columbia STS-83
7 August 1997, 14:41 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-85
23 January 1998, 02:48:15 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-89
4 December 1998, 08:35:34 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-88 ISS assembly, delivered Unity
11 February 2000, 17:43 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-99 SRTM
11 October 2000, 23:17:00 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-92
8 March 2001, 11:42 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-102
10 August 2001, 21:10:14 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-105
8 April 2002 20:44:19 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-110
7 October 2002, 19:45:51 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-112
26 July 2005, 14:39:00 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-114 ISS logistics with MPLM
31 May 2008, 21:02:12 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-124 ISS assembly, carried JEM-PM
15 November 2008, 00:55 Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-126 ISS resupply, carried MPLM
24 February 2011, 21:53:24 Space Shuttle Discovery STS-133
8 July 2011 15:29 Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135 Final Space Shuttle mission


  1. ^ Benson, Charles D; Faherty, William B. "The Swing-Arm Controversy". Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations. NASA History Office. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  2. ^ "Welcome Page". Save the LUT Campaign. 2004-02-12. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Saturn". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Saturn V". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "STS". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-03-26.