This map shows eight different launch complexes. Fixed launch complexes, usually called launch pads, consisted of a single concrete platform where rockets were assembled, prepared, tested, and launched. Because assembling and launching a rocket takes some time, only a few launches could be made from a fixed complex each year.
Launch Complex 39, Pads A and B are located on Merritt Island, Florida, just north of Cape Canaveral. Both pads were designed to support the concept of mobile launch operations, in which space vehicles are assembled and checked out in the protected environment of the Vehicle Assembly Building, then transported by a large tracked vehicle called the "crawler-transporter" to the launch pad for final processing and launch. Because one rocket could be assembled while another was in the final stages of preparation for launch, twice as many rockets could be launched from a mobile launch complex as from a fixed one.
1. Find the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Map 1. How would you describe the location?
2. Look at Map 2 and find the eight launch complexes (identified by the word "complex" and a number). Why do you think there are so many? What do the locations have in common? Why might this be the case?
3. Locate complex 39 (a and b), where the Apollo moon launches were made. These are mobile launch complexes. What components of the mobile launch operations can you identify on the map? If needed, refer to the caption above.
4. Why do you think NASA chose to use mobile launch complexes for the Apollo program?
* The map on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Map 2, but be aware that the file may take as much as 61 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.