|Complex 40, with the Vehicle Assembly Building in the background|
Complex 40 (along with nearby Complex 41) were constructed starting in 1963 in support of the Titan IIIC program. The first launch took place on June 18, 1965, with a Titan IIIC successfully lofting a test load of 21,000 lbs. of lead ballast into orbit. Complex 40 went on to support a variety of military launches, including launch vehicles other than the Titan IIIC (Titan 34D and Titan IV).
Along with its other military missions, Complex 40 was built to support the U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. MOL was a U.S. Air Force space station that would have been on station and manned in 1972, had the program not been cancelled in 1969. Complex 40 supported its first MOL launch on November 3, 1966, when a Titan IIIC carried a MOL mockup with a Gemini capsule into orbit for testing.
Between 1990 and 1993, Complex 40 was extensively modified to support Titan IVB/Centaur. Both the Mobile Service Tower and the Umbilical Tower were replaced. A newly renovated Complex 40 supported its first launch on February 7, 1994, where a Titan IVB/Centaur successfully placed the first Milstar (a joint military service communications satellite) into geostationary orbit. Complex 40 also supported the launch of the Cassini spacecraft in October of 1997. As of this writing, Cassini is en route to Saturn.
Complex 40 supported its last launch on April 29, 2005 when a Titan
IV-B carrying a national security payload left the pad that evening. In addition
to marking the end of four decades of launch operations from Complex 40, this
launch also represented the second-to-last launch of the Titan IV, the most
recent member of the successful Titan family. The final Titan will be launched
from Vandenberg Air Force Base later this year.
Photo Copyright © 1999
Joe Marino/Aerospace Reports Photographic Services.
Joe is a staff photographer for the National Space Society.
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