SpaceX just used 39A for CRS-10. Do they have any plans to repair SLC-40 from the September anomaly? The Boca Chica launch center should be ready in 2018, so will they solely use 39A and Boca Chica?


2 Answers 2


On the prelaunch press conference about LC-39A Gwynne Shotwell (SpaceX COO) said that they plan on repairing the SLC-40 pad now, hoping to finish it in summer.

Youtube: NASA Holds Pre-launch Briefing at Historic Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

Preparations for that [Falcon Heavy debut] launch will begin once repairs to SLC-40 are completed, which Shotwell said should be in June, allowing Falcon 9 launches to resume there.


IIRC June in the article is not exact, Summer was used without specifying a month.

  • $\begingroup$ @JakeBlocker searching the video for direct quote. $\endgroup$
    – jkavalik
    Feb 23, 2017 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JakeBlocker Can't find the exact qoute by random skipping and don't have the time now to rewatch it, but it was stated that Falcon Heavy will have to wait before SLC-40 is repaired and commercial Falcon 9 launches can use it before LC-39A will be used with FH. $\endgroup$
    – jkavalik
    Feb 23, 2017 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ No worries! I was just wondering $\endgroup$ Feb 23, 2017 at 16:46

SpaceX started with a pad at Vandenberg for the Falcon 1, but got kicked out of it because they were considered a risk for a Delta pad nearby.

Then they opened up at Kwajjelin Atoll. They launched the 5 Falcon 1 launch attempts from there

They opened SLC-40 at the CCAFS and launched most of their launches (minus 3 at Vandenberg, and one at LC-39A as of this writing) from there. The AMOS-6 fueling incident did sufficient damage that they switched focus to the LC-39A to buy time to fix LC-40.

The plan going forward is to launch Polar missions from Vandenberg, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

Initially NASA, government, and Manned flights will launch from LC-39A. This is Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy capable.

LC-40 will remain for Falcon 9 flights. (The plan for Falcon Heavy launches from LC-40 essentially means building an entire second pad, on the edge of the current pad and seems unlikely to happen).

Boca Chica, Texas can only launch to a narrow set of orbits due to landmasses underneath the flight path.

So LC-40 will be rebuilt and used. LC-39A will be used. SLC-4E will be used for polar missions. Boca Chica will be used once opened.

SpaceX clearly believes they have sufficient demand for all these launch pads.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ They weren't exactly "kicked out" of Vandenberg - rather, the Falcon 1 launch kept getting delayed, because the military launch had to happen first. So they moved to Kwajjelin. $\endgroup$
    – Skyler
    Feb 23, 2017 at 21:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Skyler My understanding was they were made known that they could not really launch from there. When they did the Falcon 9 pad, it was a different location at Vandenberg. I.e. The pad they were initially sold was not really usable for what they wanted to do. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Feb 24, 2017 at 11:59

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