NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station holds a special place in space exploration. Several of the greatest space journeys started here and many launch pads and related space exploration infrastructure here in Florida have earned it the title "Space Coast".
This week, two launch towers and pads were demolished to make way for fresh infrastructure in its place. The two towers were part of Launch complex 17. They were reportedly built in the 1950s to launch missiles- specifically Thor missiles. Over the decades that followed, NASA used this centre to launch many Delta rockets, notes a report by Popular Mechanics.
Launch Complex 17 saw several important missions lift off, notes the report. The Pioneer probes that started in the 1950s, whose original mission was to demonstrate that it is actually possible to break out from Earth, reach escape velocity and leave Earth's gravity. The original plaque as a message to the cosmos was also attached to the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes.
Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers were also launched from here. However, this launch site was retired in 2011, and major launches using the Delta rockets were shifted to Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, notes the report. Since the Delta programme is coming to a close to make way for larger rockets in the near future, this launch centre will likely make way for a fresh batch next generation rockets.
Moon Express, one of the finalists of Google's Lunar Xprize will reportedly be allotted this space to build their own launch sites.
This new era of space exploration has kicked off a fresh batch of companies, this time mostly private industrialists taking it on themselves to make space more accessible to not only governments agencies but also to smaller players. Space is a lucrative future business as well. Experts have pointed out that the first private trillionaire will be a space miner.