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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pad 39A

Few things stir the imagination like space exploration. That, and a really beautiful woman.

Liftoff! Watching SpaceX Make History at Pad 39A

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A storied NASA launchpad hosted a dazzling pyrotechnic display as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life on Sunday morning (Feb. 19), sending nearly 5,500 lbs. (2,500 kilograms) of cargo on a journey to the International Space Station. 
The cargo, which included crew supplies, tools and science experiments, was packed inside a Dragon cargo spacecraft attached to the top of the 210-foot rocket. Falcon breathed fire and roared loudly as it quickly disappeared into low-hanging clouds after an on-time liftoff at 9:39 a.m. EST (1439 GMT) from NASA's historic gateway to space: Launch Pad 39A. 
While the flight was one for the history books for many reasons, the primary reason had to do with the launch itself: This was the first time that the Kennedy Space Center (and Pad 39A) had hosted a launch since the final space shuttle flight in 2011. It also signaled the first time a private company had lifted off from this hallowed ground. [In Photos: ;SpaceX's 1st Launch from NASA's Historic Pad 39A]
The historic site saw the launch of most of the Apollo moon missions as well as many space shuttle flights, including missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Sunday's launch marked a new era for Pad 39A, which SpaceX hopes will one day ferry astronauts to Mars and beyond. 
The road to Mars began nearly five decades ago as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins strapped into their seats aboard the Apollo capsule, which sat atop the world's most powerful rocket at the time — the Saturn V. That vehicle, as well as many others that followed, was assembled in NASA's iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) before it was rolled out to the launchpad atop a massive crawler transporter. From my spot on the roof of that same building, I prepared to watch SpaceX make history by launching the first commercial rocket from a once-government-only facility. 
Rain drizzled and gray clouds hung overhead as journalists, bystanders, NASA employees and researchers whose payloads were nestled in Dragon's trunk gathered to watch the launch. Members of the media were present in three different viewing locations: the press site, which is home to the iconic countdown clock and was the premier viewing location during the shuttle era; the NASA causeway; and the VAB roof — and each location offered a unique vantage point. 
More here.

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