Launch Complex 34
LC-34 with Saturn I rocket SA-4 on 28 March 1963
Launch siteCape Canaveral Space Force Station
Location28°31′19″N 80°33′41″W / 28.52194°N 80.56139°W / 28.52194; -80.56139
Short nameLC-34
OperatorUS Space Force
Total launches7
Launch pad(s)1
Orbital inclination
28° - 57°
Launch history
First launchOctober 27, 1961
Last launchOctober 11, 1968
Apollo 7
Saturn I
Saturn IB

Launch Complex 34 (LC-34) is a deactivated launch site on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. LC-34 and its companion LC-37 to the north were used by NASA from 1961 through 1968 to launch Saturn I and IB rockets as part of the Apollo program. It was the site of the Apollo 1 fire, which claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967. The first crewed Apollo launch — Apollo 7 on October 11, 1968 — was the last time LC-34 was used.



Work began on LC-34 in 1960, and it was formally dedicated on June 5, 1961. The complex consisted of a launch platform, umbilical tower, mobile service tower, fueling facilities, and a blockhouse. Two steel flame deflectors were mounted on rails to allow placement beneath the launch platform. The service tower was likewise mounted on rails, and it was moved to a position 185 meters west of the pad before launch. At 95 meters high, it was the tallest structure at LC-34.

The blockhouse, located 320 meters from the pad, was modeled after the domed reinforced concrete structure at LC-20. During a launch, it could accommodate 130 people as well as test and instrumentation equipment. Periscopes afforded views outside the windowless facility.

Saturn I series

LC-34 saw its first launch on October 27, 1961. The first Saturn I, Block I, mission SA-1, lofted a dummy upper stage on a suborbital trajectory into the Atlantic. The subsequent three Saturn I launches took place at LC-34, ending with SA-4 on March 28, 1963. The six ensuing Saturn I, Block II launches were conducted at LC-37.

On November 29, 1963, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, his successor Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11129 renaming both NASA's Merrit Island Launch Operations Center and "the facilities of Station No. 1 of the Atlantic Missile Range" (a reference to Canaveral AFB) the "John F. Kennedy Space Center". He had also convinced Gov. C. Farris Bryant (D-Fla.) to change the name of Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy. This resulted in some confusion in public perception, which conflated the two. NASA Administrator James E. Webb clarified this by issuing a directive stating the Kennedy Space Center name applied only to Merritt Island, while the Air Force issued a general order renaming the Air Force Station launch site Cape Kennedy Air Force Station.[1]

Saturn IB series

LC-34 was extensively modified to support Saturn IB launches, which began in February 1966. New anchor points were built to fasten the service structure in place during high winds. Access arms on the umbilical tower were rebuilt to match the larger rocket. At the 67-meter level, the swing arm was outfitted with a white room to permit access to the command module at the top of a rocket.

Two Saturn IBs (AS-201 and AS-202) were successfully launched from LC-34 before the Apollo 1 fire brought Apollo activities at the spaceport to an abrupt halt. After the fire, extinguishing equipment was installed at the top of the umbilical tower, and a slide wire was set up to provide astronauts a quick escape in the event of an emergency.

The first crewed Apollo launch—Apollo 7 on October 11, 1968—was the last time LC-34 was used. NASA considered reactivating both LC-34 and LC-37 for the Apollo Applications Program, but instead LC-39B was modified to launch Saturn IBs.

The geographical name change from Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy proved to be unpopular, owing to the historical longevity of Cape Canaveral. In 1973, both the Air Force Base and the geographical Cape names were reverted to Canaveral.[2][3]

Launch Complex 34 today

LC-34 today. The plaque (below) is on the rear of the right column. Today the pad is fenced off, preventing visitors from walking beneath the pad or getting close enough to read the memorial plaques.
Apollo 1 plaque at LC-34

After the decommissioning of LC-34, the umbilical tower and service structure were razed, leaving only the launch platform standing at the center of the pad. It serves as a memorial to the crew of Apollo 1. A dedicatory plaque affixed to the structure bears the inscription:

Friday, 27 January 1967
1831 Hours

Dedicated to the living memory of the crew of the Apollo 1

U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Virgil I. Grissom
U.S.A.F. Lt. Colonel Edward H. White, II
U.S.N. Lt. Commander Roger B. Chaffee

They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind's final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.

Small plaque on side of the right rear column

Another plaque (which was shown in the film Armageddon)[4] reads:




Also surviving at the LC-34 site are the two flame deflectors and the blockhouse. The original spherical Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank at LC-34 was purchased by SpaceX in 2008, moved to LC-40, refurbished (cleaned, pressure tested, painted white), and now used for Falcon 9 flights.


Launch history

This is a complete list of all launches made from LC-34.

Saturn I for mission SA-3 in place on Pad 34, prior to November 1962 launch
Apollo 7 launch, photographed from behind the blockhouse
Date Time
Launch vehicle Mission Payload Remarks
October 27, 1961 15:06 Saturn I SA-1 (none) First use of LC-34, First flight of Saturn I.
April 25, 1962 14:00 Saturn I SA-2 Highwater Self-destruct detonated after completion of mission to test effects of water at high altitudes on communications.
November 16, 1962 17:45 Saturn I SA-3 Highwater Self-destruct detonated after completion of mission to test effects of water at high altitudes on communications.
March 28, 1963 20:11 Saturn I SA-4 (none) Dummy second stage
February 26, 1966 15:06 Saturn IB AS-201 Apollo CSM First flight of Saturn IB and uncrewed Apollo CSM
August 25, 1966 17:15 Saturn IB AS-202 Apollo CSM Uncrewed suborbital test of Saturn IB and CSM
Planned for February 21, 1967 Canceled Saturn IB Apollo 1 Manned Apollo CSM Cabin fire on the pad killed entire crew, January 27
October 11, 1968 15:02 Saturn IB Apollo 7 Manned Apollo CSM First crewed Apollo flight, last use of LC-34

See also


  1. ^ Benson, Charles D.; Faherty, William B. (August 1977). "Chapter 7: The Launch Directorate Becomes an Operational Center - Kennedy's Last Visit". Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations. History Series. Vol. SP-4204. NASA. Archived from the original on 2004-11-06.
  2. ^ "The History of Cape Canaveral, chapter 3". Archived from the original on 2012-08-29. Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  3. ^ Cape Canaveral GNIS page
  4. ^ CollectSpace