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How much of the actual launch pad survives the heat and pressure of launch and is capable of being reusd?

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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully most of it but there might be parts specific to individual launch systems that would be replaced more frequently or one time use only. If all goes well, but accidents do happen. Could you please edit to clarify if you have some specific launch system in mind, or what makes you ask this question, so we can easier answer it more directly? Also check other questions tagged as launchpad, launch-site and tel. Also cool: Google Street View of the bottom of the launch pad 39A $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Nov 15 '14 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a youtube of the launch of Apollo 11 as seen from a camera at pad level. The narration includes a description of an ablative paint and other measures designed to protect components and minimize damage from the engine exhaust. It makes sense that launch facilities would be designed to maximize re-use following nominal launches. There is probably not a lot of consideration given to hardening a facility against malfunctions such as the recent Antares incident. youtube.com/watch?v=vPW7ZqtW5U4 $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Nov 15 '14 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ Launch pads are designed to sustain minimal damage from a launch. The electrical and mechanical interfaces such as the umbilicals, fill/drain lines, and pneumatics are retracted at liftoff into protected cavities. Surfaces that will be exposed to intense heat are covered with a thick ablative coating. Some damage does still occur. I've been told by people who work at a launch site that if the wind is blowing the wrong direction it can push the rocket plum toward the tower and cause additional damage. $\endgroup$ – Adam Dec 9 '14 at 3:12
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The people who build modern pads, know the power of the rockets.

The flame trenches are designed to take the engine exhaust, use water to protect it from heat and sound damage.

There are umbilicals that are much softer, and are often easier to replace than try to harden. SpaceX learned this the hard way, through trial and error on their first few launches. They had to toughen up parts of the pad they thought would not need it.

Thus a properly designed, modern launch facility will have most of its fixed structures survive with minimal work required, and possibly need some softer elements simply replaced.

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer. The amount of damage F9v1.1 did to SLC-4E on its inaugural flight was totally unexpected, so much needed to be replaced. $\endgroup$ – ReactingToAngularVues Mar 5 '15 at 20:24

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