Space Florida Transforms SLC-46 for New Launch Capabilities

Athena-2 rocket at SLC-46. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT (August 17, 2017) – On August 25, Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its Minotaur 4 rocket from Space Florida’s Space Launch Complex (SLC) 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch of the ORS 5 mission for the US Air Force (USAF), will be the first launch from the pad since 1999, as well as the first since Space Florida renovated the complex.

“Over time, Space Florida has managed SLC-46 through a significant transformation, making the facility one of the most capable and adaptable at the Cape,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “The Orbital ATK launch means that every U.S. vertical launch provider now has operations at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. We are excited to see the pad reignite with activity, and look forward to hosting Orbital ATK and other launch providers as we enter a new season of life for this historic facility.”

SLC-46 is located on the eastern most end of the Cape, and covers approximately 30 acres. The launch facility was built in 1985 by the US Navy to support land-based testing of the Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile. The State of Florida took over SLC-46 in the 1990s, during which time, the pad saw just two launches before going dormant.

Today, SLC-46 is operated by Space Florida under the authority of a Real Property License with the USAF, a Joint Use Agreement with the United States Navy and a Federal Aviation Administration Launch Site Operators License. Space Florida serves as a mission partner to SLC-46 customers, providing lease access to the site and serving as liaison to range services.

In 2010, Space Florida began an extensive two-phase renovation program to enhance the marketability of SLC-46 to a diverse set of prospective customers. The scope of this project included environmental studies, design and construction to modify existing systems as required to restore operational capability to support civil, commercial and military launch capabilities. A total of $6.6M was made by federal, state and local partners to provide for the upgrade of common use capability. Those modifications unique to the Minotaur were made by Orbital ATK.

Additional unique upgrades to SLC 46 will be made by NASA Johnson Space Center for an Orion Ascent Abort test scheduled for 2019 on a retired Peacekeeper booster following the Orbital mission.

Space Florida’s SLC-46 is an extremely flexible and configurable launch facility that can be modified to support a variety of new and smaller launch vehicles, including suborbital vehicles requiring only a concrete pad surface for mounting a launcher. With minimal post launch refurbishment required, SLC-46 can support multiple launches per year.

About Cape Canaveral Spaceport: The Cape Canaveral Spaceport, at which Space Florida has an operational spaceport authority role, is the premiere transportation hub for global space commerce. Space Florida oversees management and operation of key elements of Florida’s existing space transportation capability including the Shuttle Landing Facility and Launch Complex 46. Those Cape Canaveral Spaceport capabilities are enabled by safe and secure operations across a broad landscape of space activities.

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  • Congrats to Space Florida. Keep trying new things – experimentation is very healthy.

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    Impressively sparse pad. Guess it doesn’t take a lot of infrastructure to launch a Minotaur.

  • publiusr

    That’s solids far ya.

    The all solid Apollo HLLV
    http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=11448

  • Saturn13

    Our sales tax money well spent on this launch pad. Nice place for wasps. How do they kill all of them? Close the doors and gas maybe. I had been thinking that a 1 segment SRB could be launched from there. Stack in place. The roll off is probably tall enough, but the exhaust hole may not be big enough since it is 12′ and Trident must have been less.

  • redneck

    Good point. Very little expensive equipment in the blast radius.