The last two NASA launch towers at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida were demolished after 62 years of service, with several videos showing the destruction unfold as the towers collapsed.
Known as Launch Complex 17, the launch towers supported 325 missile and rocket launches, including some of the most notable satellites and spacecraft that the United States has sent to space.
Cape Canaveral Space Launch Towers Demolition
The two launch towers of Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral are no longer standing after a demolition job that sent them to the ground.
The oldest remaining launch pad structures at Cape Canaveral came tumbling down on the morning of July 12. The demolition was overseen by the United States Air Force's 45th Space Wing.
"[Three]... 2... 1... Fire in the hole!" said 45th Space Wing commander Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, before pushing a button that started a series of explosions. In a matter of seconds, the last two rocket launch towers at Cape Canaveral were reduced to rubble.
The demolition went smoothly, with the operation and the succeeding cleanup costing about $2 million. Several contractors will now start the enormous task of clearing the 1,700 tons of steel and thousands of concrete left behind by Launch Complex 17 for recycling purposes.
What Happened At Launch Complex 17?
Launch Complex 17 at Cape Canaveral was initially built to launch Thor missiles in the 1950s, but ended up as the launch site for dozens of Delta rockets in the past several decades.
"It's kind of a poignant moment thinking back over all of the years of successful Delta missions," said Tim Dunn, the launch director for the Kennedy Space Center.
Among the high-profile NASA missions that were launched at Launch Complex 17 include the Pioneer probes and the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. However, the launch towers have remained unused for several years due to the Delta rocket launches being moved to the Vandenburg Air Force Base in 2011.
The destruction of Launch Complex 17, however, will be paving the way for more space missions. After the area is cleared, it will be the new launch site for Moon Express, a startup that was one of the finalists in Google's Lunar XPrize. Moon Express, which will be building new infrastructure on where Launch Complex 17 used to stand, is working within NASA's Lunar CATALYST (Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) initiative for the development of commercial lunar lander technology.