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SpaceX Rocket Reignites Historic NASA Launch Pad

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 14, 2017 02:24 AM EST
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The historic launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida was reignited on Sunday as a SpaceX rocket underwent a pre-flight test-fire of its engines. It marks the return of rocket use of NASA launch pad where astronauts historically lifted off for the moon, and also leapt into orbit on the space shuttle. The static fire flight test lasted for only three seconds, verifying the readiness of the Falcon 9 rocket and the modified launch pad.

Launch Pad 39A at NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center will see the Falcon 9 launch with a Dragon spacecraft which will deliver supplies and equipments, including lab mice and specimen for drug studies, for the scientists aboard the International Space Station. It is a maiden mission for a SpaceX rocket, and the company is tremendously honored to be able to launch from a historic NASA site. "This is the same launch pad used by the Saturn V rocket that first took people to the moon in 1969," SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk writes on Twitter. "We are honored to be allowed to use it," he adds.

First built in the 1960s to support the massive Saturn V, the launch complex was extensively modified to launch the shuttle. In addition to Apollo 8 in 1968, the first manned mission to orbit the moon, launch pad 39A also served as the departure point for Apollo 11, the first moon landing in 1969. All in all, the pad has hosted 94 launches, 12 of which were Saturn V rockets, and 82 shuttles, the Space reports.

The last rocket launched from NASA's Pad 39A was for the final mission of the space shuttle, STS-135, on July 8, 2011. In 2014, SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease with NASA for the historic pad's use. The company have been modifying the site since then solely for SpaceX rockets, the CBS News reports.

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