It’s been kind of fun watching the last few Falcon 9 launches with the Shuttle’s Fixed Service Structure and Rotating Service Structure still in place at the icon LC-39A. (The structures at LC-39B were removed years ago to return it to its “clean pad” configuration from the Apollo years.) But that fun has come to an end. Crews have begun delicately removing the Rotating Service Structure, piece by piece, to avoid damaging the new Falcon 9 structures in place at the pad. It doesn’t need to be gone right away, but there is a bit of a downtime in the Falcon 9 launch schedule at Merritt Island, so it was a good time to get some progress in. They expect to have it completely demolished by the end of the year, and the steel hauled off for recycling.
The Shuttle structures won’t be completely gone, though. The Fixed Service Structure will be retained to support a gantry that will allow crew access once the crewed Dragon flights begin. That access arm is scheduled to be added this fall, to support flights sometime next year.
There’s a time-lapse video in this article, showing the cranes arriving and beginning to lift down sections:
But, as one era ends, another is beginning. The loss of Shuttle remains bittersweet, but we’re moving into an exciting era of commercial spaceflight, not just in crewed flights but unmanned as well. With luck, by the end of the year we’ll also see the launch of some of the Google Lunar Xprize candidates…..