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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

This website is kept for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

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Shuttle Launch Discovery will begin it's journey in a spectacular rush of light and sound. For a few brief moments, lift off will turn night into day along Florida's space coast.

Kennedy Space Center Press Site

KSC Press Site

The Press Site is the center for all news activities at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). It includes a 350-seat, covered grandstand with electrical and telephone service, a 90-seat auditorium for press conferences and briefings, and an audiovisual laboratory. The major television networks and other media have permanent facilities at the Press Site on land leased from NASA.

The Press Site is located in the Launch Complex 39 Area, just south of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and Launch Control Center (LCC). It is adjacent to the Barge Terminal Facility, commonly known as the Turn Basin. Located just 3 miles (3.22 Kilometers) from the Shuttle pads, it is an excellent location for viewing a launch.

KSC map KSC map
Press area map
Kennedy Space Center 3D overview map

What you can see from the Press Site:

WebCam Views
Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Control Center
Countdown Clock and Launch Pad

The Shuttle Launch Pads
More Pad Facts
Launch Control Center (LCC)
Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)
Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
More VAB Facts
Operations Support Building (OSB)


The Shuttle Launch Pads

The Shuttle Launch PadsThe twin Space Shuttle launch pads, formally known as Pad 39-A and Pad 39-B, are just three miles from the Press Site. They were originally designed to support the Apollo program and later modified for Space Shuttle launch operations. Major changes included the erection of a new Fixed Service Structure (FSS), addition of a Rotating Service Structure (RSS), and the replacement of the Saturn flame deflectors with three new flame deflectors. The two pads are virtually identical and roughly octagonal in shape.


More Pad Facts:

  • The distance between the pads is 2,657 meters (8,715 ft).
  • The Sound Suppression Water System is used to protect the launch structure from the intense sound pressure of liftoff. Its water tank is 88.9 meters (290 ft) high and has a capacity of 1,135,000 liters (300,000 gallons).
  • The height of the Fixed Service Structure (FSS) is 105.7 meters (347ft) to the top of the lightning mast (referenced to the pad base) and the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) is 57.6 meters (189ft) high.
  • The Fixed Service Structure (FSS) and Rotating Service Structure (RSS) on Pad 39-A underwent a renovation between June and September 1993. Workers applied 13,773 gallons (52,130.805 liters) of paint in two coats, and the sandblasting operation used 1866 tons of sand.
  • The Weather Protection System protects Shuttle tiles from wind-blown debris, rain and hail. Between the Shuttle's belly and the external tank, wheeled metal doors slide to within 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) of each other, providing protection for the lower part of the Shuttle.
  • Approximately 1.25 million feet (381,000 meters) of tubing and piping reside at Launch Complex 39. They vary in size from .25 inches (.635 centimeters) to 114 inches (289.6 centimeters) in diameter. This is enough pipe to reach from Orlando to Miami.


Launch Control Center

Launch Control CenterThe Launch Control Center (LCC) is a four-story building that is the electronic "brain" of Launch Complex 39. Attached to the southeast corner of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), it is 5,535 meters (18,159 ft) from Pad 39A. At the time it was constructed, advances in electronics had made it unnecessary to continue locating blockhouses adjacent to launch pads. The LCC houses the four firing rooms from which the launches are controlled.


Orbiter Processing Facility

Orbiter Processing Facility Immediately after landing, the Shuttle is towed to the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), located west of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The facility includes three garage-like hangars that the Shuttles enter horizontally. After a Shuttle return to Earth, this is where the processing team removes residual fuels and explosive materials. Then they remove the mission payloads, inspect the vehicle, test and refurbish it for its next flight. These activities take up about two-thirds of the Shuttle processing time between missions. The remaining third is for installing and checking out the next mission's payload.

Vehicle Assembly Building

Vehicle Assembly BuildingThe Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was originally built for assembly of Apollo/Saturn vehicles and was later modified to support Space Shuttle operations. High Bays 1 and 3 are used for integration and stacking of the complete Space Shuttle vehicle. High Bay 2 is used for external tank (ET) checkout and storage and as a contingency storage area for Shuttles. High Bay 4 is also used for ET checkout and storage, as well as for payload canister operations and solid rocket booster (SRB) contingency handling.

To build the Space Shuttle "stack", workers hoist SRB segments onto a Mobile Launcher Platform and mate them together to form two complete SRBs. The Shuttle's external tank arrives by barge, is inspected and checked out, and attached to the SRBs already in place. The Shuttle is then towed over from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the VAB, raised to a vertical position, lowered onto the Mobile Launcher Platform, and mated to the rest of the stack. When assembly and checkout is complete, the crawler-transporter picks up the platform and assembled Shuttle vehicle and carries them to the launch pad.


More VAB Facts:

  • The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres).
  • It is 525 ft (160 meters) high. This is 220 ft (67 meters) taller than the Statue of Liberty, which stands 305 ft (93 meters) tall.
  • It is 716 ft long (218 meters) and (518 ft) 158 meters wide. Not counting the end zones, a football field is 300 ft long.
  • It encloses 3,665,013 cu meters (129,428,000 cub ft) of space. The VAB has the volume of 3.75 Empire State Buildings.
  • The flag on the side of the VAB is 209 x 110 ft (64 x 33.5 meters). If a tour bus could defy gravity, it could easily drive inside the width of each stripe.


Operations Support Building (OSB)

The Operations Support Building (OSB) is a six-story, office building that contains technical documentation center, a library, and the photo analysis area.


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