One of the three huge steel platforms used by NASA to launch the Apollo missions and the old American space shuttle is being demolished. And the reason is quite simple, according to the collectSPACE website: the lack of space at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Also known as Mobile Launch Platform-2 (MLP-2), the platform was the starting point for dozens of space missions between the years 1968 and 2011. Among them, it is worth mentioning the launch of Apollo 14, on January 31, 1971, taking astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa and Edgard Mitchell to the surface of the Moon.
Another remarkable flight that departed from it was the STS-51-L mission, on January 28, 1986. Taking a satellite and equipment to carry out experiments in orbit, the Challenger space shuttle ended up exploding in the air a few seconds after launch, killing the seven crew members aboard the ship.
In an interview with the publication, MLP-2 project manager Scott Tenhoff said that the demolition of the old platform has to do with the construction of a new structure model, already aligned with the needs of future NASA missions. “To build Mobile Launcher 2 (new version), something had to end,” he said.
Parts of the structure can be preserved
The structure, which measures 8 meters high, 48 meters long and 41 meters wide, is being demolished using excavators equipped with hydraulic shears. According to Tenhoff, it will be reduced in size from top to bottom and from outside to inside, until it is completely destroyed.
The demolition work should take around a month, but before it is closed, it is possible that some parts of the structure are preserved, due to its historical value. The American space agency has offered pieces of the platform to some museums, but has yet to get answers from them.