In Photos: NASA's Historic Launch Pad 39A, from Apollo to Shuttle to SpaceX

Mobile Service Structure


The Mobile Service Structure moves down the Pad 39A ramp during preparations for the Apollo 11 launch.



The U.S. launched its first space station, Skylab, from Pad 39A on May 14, 1973.

Giant Erector Set


Construction of the payload changeout room for the Space Shuttle Program made it possible to install payloads while the space shuttle stands vertically on Pad 39A.



The space shuttle Columbia, NASA's first orbiter, is showered with lights in this nocturnal scene at Launch Pad 39A during preparations for the first flight of NASA's new reusable spacecraft system. This photo was taken in March 1981 ahead of Columbia's April 12, 1981 launch.



A view of the shuttle Challenger rolling out to the pad before its maiden launch on April 4, 1983.



The Space Shuttle Atlantis is pictured during the slow journey to Pad 39A from the Vehicle Assembly Building on Aug. 20, 1996, before the launch of STS-79.



Space Shuttle Columbia hurtles through a perfect blue Florida sky carrying mission STS-107 on Jan. 16, 2003.

Repairing Damages

Jack Pfaller/NASA

During the launch of Discovery on the STS-124 mission, Pad 39A sustained unprecedented damages to its flame trench. A section of the east wall was destroyed and debris scattered as far as the pad perimeter fence 1,500 feet (457 meters) away. [Read the full story]



A nearly full moon sets as the space shuttle Discovery sits atop Launch pad 39A on March 11, 2009. [VIDEO: Discovery's Night Launch]

Sister Shuttles on Twin Pads

Toy Cryder/NASA

Space shuttles Atlantis (STS-125) and Endeavour (STS-400) on launch pads 39A and 39B before the Hubble servicing mission in 2008. Endeavour stands by in case of the unlikely event that a rescue mission is necessary during Atlantis' STS-125 mission to repair NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.