Kennedy Space Center is the primary NASA center
for the test, checkout and launch of Space Shuttle vehicles and their payloads,
as well as the turnaround of orbiters between missions. It is one of the major
landing sites for the Shuttle.
Manned Space Shuttles launch from KSC's Launch
Complex 39, located on Merritt Island, FL, just north of Cape Canaveral. The
Launch Complex 39 facilities originally supported the Apollo lunar landing
program. From 1967 to 1975, 12 Saturn V/Apollo vehicles, one Saturn V/Skylab
workshop, three Saturn 1B/Apollo vehicles for Skylab crews, and one Saturn
1B/Apollo for the joint U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz mission, flew into space from
Launch Complex 39.
These facilities underwent modifications to
process and launch the Space Shuttle. Modifying existing facilities was far less
expensive than building all new structures. There were two major new additions
— a special runway to land returning orbiters and an orbiter checkout hangar
called the Orbiter Processing Facility. During the 1980s, a number of new
facilities were added for solid rocket booster processing, Shuttle logistics,
orbiter modification and refurbishment, and repair and final manufacture of
Thermal Protection System materials.