LC 39
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Launch Complex 39 History

The launch pads at complex 39 were more than just raised, hardened areas for the launching of the Saturn V. There would be no permanently emplaced launch stands, umbilical towers, and service structures as previously associated with a complete launch complex. At LC-39 these structures were mobile, and the pad had to be of sufficient strength to support their weight and that of the crawler-transporter. But the pad would have many other appurtenances common to its predecessors. The site of launch pad A, approximately 0.7 square kilometers, was roughly octagonal. The elevated launch pad, rises 12 meters above ground level, lay in a north-south direction. This orientation requires the crawlerway to make a near right-angle turn before approaching the ramp sloping 5 degrees upward to the top of the pad. A flame trench, level with the surrounding area at its base, 18 meters wide and 137 meters long, bisects the pad. On each side of this flame trench a cellular structure supports a thick surface, called a hardstand. The crawler-transporter places the mobile launcher and the Apollo-Saturn vehicle on top of this reinforced slab.

The two-story pad terminal connection room and the single-story environmental control systems room is within the western side of the pad. The former would house the electronic equipment that connected communication and digital data link transmission lines from the launch control center to the mobile launcher when it was on the pad. The environmental control systems room served as the distribution point for air conditioning and water systems. The high-pressure-gas storage facility, to store and distribute nitrogen and helium gases piped from the converter-compressor facility, lies beneath the top of the pad on the east side.

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Apollo 12 at Launch Complex 39 in 1969 (NASA) Endeavour at LC 39B November 2000 Apollo Era Escape Chute (now sealed) on Pad 39B Deck
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Escape Tunnel (Photo courtesy of NASA) Rubber Mounted Room (Photo courtesy of NASA) Blast Door (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Should a hazardous condition arise that required safe egress from the spacecraft, the astronauts could cross over to the mobile launcher on a swing arm and then ride one of the high-speed elevators from the 104- meter level to level A, thirty stories down at 183 meters per minute. From there they would slide down an escape tube to a thickly padded rubber deceleration ramp. Steel doors, much like those of a bank vault, allowed access to a blast room, which could withstand an on-the-pad explosion of the entire space vehicle. Those inside could stay alive for at least 24 hours to allow rescue crews time to dig them out. (NASA)