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Historic Cape Launch Towers Imploded, Making Way For Private Space Company

Video: Michael Seeley

Two historic launch towers were imploded Thursday to make way for a new private space company at Cape Canaveral.

The twin towers of launch complex 17 came crashing down each falling in opposite directions after near simultaneous detonations of demolition explosives.

Known as LC-17, it hosted launches of the Delta and Thor rockets from the late 1950s until 2011.

It was the starting point for many historic robotic missions like the pioneer probes that explored the outer solar system and the twin Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Opportunity, launched in 2003, is still exploring the surface of Mars, although a planet-wide dust storm has forced the rover into a protective hibernation mode.

The Air Force is making way for the complex’s new tenant, private company Moon Express. The company wants to send landers to the lunar surface to conduct science experience and mine the surface for valuable resources.

Founder Bob Richards says the demolition plan was in place before Moon Express leased the site but wants to preserve its history.

“Personally, I love the towers and find them inspiring,” Richards said on Twitter. “Moon Express honors the heritage of LC-17 and will work with the community and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station museum & historical society to help ensure its rich legacy is archived and preserved.”

Moon Express leases the adjacent space LC-18, where it will test its lunar lander prototype ahead of a launch to the moon.


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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »

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