What are the things to be considered while designing a launch pad?

What are the subsystems of launch pad design?

(Please provide briefly what needs to be done in each of the subsystem to do the preliminary design)

The rocket will be liquid engine type and it will be taken to the launch site horizontally and will be erected at launch mount.

Note: The rocket is a single stage liquid engine rocket of dimensions similar to sounding rockets but twice in diameter.

  • $\begingroup$ I tried finding some literature on this, but not much luck till now. $\endgroup$
    – Amar
    Jul 21, 2018 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ At the moment this question is very broad. What sort of launches are you considering? For example, sounding rockets have very different requirements to large orbital vehicles. Will your vehicle be erected on the launchpad or will it be delivered vertically? Maybe narrow your question to a particular aspect of launchpad design to make it easier to answer effectively. $\endgroup$
    – Jack
    Jul 21, 2018 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Have given an answer, but some further clarification over what the rocket is would help the answer quality. A single stage sounding rocket will have different pad infrastructure to a manned mars bound all up launch. $\endgroup$ Jul 21, 2018 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jack feel free to give your answers with your assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – Amar
    Jul 21, 2018 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ These dimensions are just to get started with. $\endgroup$
    – Amar
    Jul 21, 2018 at 12:31

1 Answer 1


Edit - this answer is for the original un-edited question and is not really applicable to the small single stage rocket launch in the question as it now stands which will hopefully get a more specific answer.

There are probably better books but Rocket Ranch talks a lot about the Apollo era infra structure and things that might have been done other ways. See also the associated website

Unsure if there is a shuttle era or Russian equivalent in book form. Wikipedia hasa page covering many of the shuttle systems

Where you physically put the pad is a question on its own.

With the pad itself you have:

  • The infrastructure to physically get rocket to the pad-road/rail/crawler

  • Structure to lift it onto/tip it up at the pad.

  • Structure to hold it on the pad and release it cleanly on launch.

  • Structure to keep weather away from critical parts.

  • Structure to get people to the rocket to prep/service all the parts that need pad access.

  • Structure to get all access ways clear of rocket during launch.

  • Storage at safe distance for propellants.

  • Storage at safe distance for other hazardous pyrotechnic etc items.

  • Safe location for emergency team.

  • Emergency systems for the pad (leak detection, fire fighting, inerting/dilution of toxic compounds), also need bunds and containment for worst case leaks.

  • Emergency escape for crew and/or support staff to safe distance.

  • Ground support hardware for rocket (cooling, power, data).

  • Method to reliably disconnect the ground support hardware.

  • Sound/vibration control - much of the water spray seen around launch pads is sound control.

  • Flame trench and exhaust management systems.

  • Range access control systems (fences, air/sea radar).

  • Tag in/out system to confirm all people safe (that does not make actual work impossible).

  • Safe location for launch control people and equipment.

  • Locations for instrumentation to observe launch without sensor destruction.

  • Lighting rods.


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