Open main menu

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41), previously Launch Complex 41 (LC-41), is an active launch site at the north end of Cape Canaveral, Florida at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[1][2] The site is currently used by United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Atlas V launches. Previously, it had been used by the Air Force, for Titan III and Titan IV launches. In the future, the pad will be used to launch the partly-reusable Vulcan launch vehicle. It is expected to launch for the first time in 2021.

Space Launch Complex 41
Atlas V 551 at Launch Pad 41.jpg
An aerial view of SLC-41. The Atlas V on the pad is the one used to launch New Horizons to Pluto.
Launch siteCape Canaveral Air Force Station
Location28°35′00″N 80°34′59″W / 28.58333°N 80.58306°W / 28.58333; -80.58306Coordinates: 28°35′00″N 80°34′59″W / 28.58333°N 80.58306°W / 28.58333; -80.58306
Short nameSLC-41
OperatorUnited States Air Force
Total launches91
Launch pad(s)1
Min / max
orbital inclination
28° - 57°
Launch history
First launch21 December 1965
Titan IIIC / LES-3/4
Last launch17 October 2018
Atlas V / AEHF-4
A Titan IV on LC-41 in 1996. The steel towers visible at the left and right are part of the lightning protection system.


Titan IIIEdit

The Titan III launch facilities at CCAFS were built as part of an Integrate-Transfer-Launch approach intended to enable a rapid launch rate. Titan vehicles were assembled and integrated with their payloads off-pad and then transported by rail to one of the two pads. The Titan III facilities included both LC-40 and LC-41, assembly buildings including the Vertical Integration Building, and the first rail line at the Cape.[3] The facilities were completed in 1964, and the first launch from LC-41 was of a Titan IIIC, carrying four separate payloads, on December 21, 1965.

Titan IVEdit

LC-41 was also the pad used for the maiden flight of the Titan IV. The last Titan launch from LC-41 was on April 9, 1999, when a Titan IVB launched the USA 142 early warning satellite. The IUS upper stage failed to separate, leaving the payload stranded in a useless GTO orbit.

Atlas VEdit

After the last Titan launch, the complex was renovated, and since 2002, LC-41 has been used by ULA for Atlas V launches. The maiden flight of Atlas V launched from LC-41 on August 21, 2002. The Atlas V booster lifted Hot Bird 6, a Eutelsat geostationary communications spacecraft built around a Spacebus 3000B3 bus.

Atlas V rockets are assembled vertically on a mobile launch platform in the Vertical Integration Facility, located to the south of the pad. The platform is transported to the launch pad on rails, about a day before launch.

Modifications for supporting human spaceflightEdit

An Atlas V launching from the pad, with the crew access tower (left) completed for future crewed missions. (August 2017)

In September 2015, pad modifications began to support human spaceflight via the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule.[4][5]

Modifications include the addition of a launch service tower to provide access to the capsule for "pre-launch processing, crew access, and safety egress systems should the need to evacuate Starliner on the pad occur."[4]


In addition to satellites, Titan vehicles launched several probes from LC-41 in the 1970s, including the Helios probes to study the Sun, the Viking probes to Mars, and the Voyager planetary flyby and deep-space probes. More recent probes have also been launched from LC-41 using the Atlas V: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in December 2004, the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto in January 2006, The Juno mission to Jupiter in August 2011,[6] and The Mars Science Laboratory to Mars in November 2011.[7][8]

Launch historyEdit

Rocket configurationEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan (1998-02-22). "Issue 350". Jonathan's Space Report. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  2. ^ USAF Supports NASA's Dual Lunar Exploratory Missions Archived June 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Roy McCullough (September 2001). "Missiles at the Cape". US Army Corps of Engineers.
  4. ^ a b Gebhardt, Chris (2015-10-08). "Canaveral and KSC pads: New designs for space access". Retrieved 2015-10-11.
  5. ^
  6. ^ 45th Space Wing Supports Successful Atlas V Juno Launch
  7. ^ The Associated Press (November 26, 2011). "NASA Launches Sophisticated Rover on Journey to Mars". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  8. ^ NASA Offers Media Access To Mars-Bound Rover On Aug. 12

External linksEdit