Launch Complex 31 is a particularly important historical site. It was initially built along with LC-32 for the US Air Force to develop the Minuteman missile program. Today it entombs the remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
LC-31 is built right next to Navaho complex LC-9 . to make room for this LC-9′s sister complex LC-10 had to be demolished.
Built at the beginning of the 1960s LC 31 consists: Blockhouse; static launch pad; and missile silo. These complexes were the first to feature dual launch pads, one of which was subterranean.
The blockhouse was very different from the previous ones seen on ICBM road. The blockhouses here are bee-hive shaped located 210 yards from the static pad and 330 yards from the silo.
The Minuteman program launched 4 Minuteman missiles from LC31A and 35 from the silo LC31B between February 1st 1960 and September 23rd 1969. After the Minuteman program had flown out LC31A was used by the US Army to test launch 10 Pershing missiles.
After the Challenger disaster in 1986 the remains of the spaceship where collected and and now are entombed in the silo of LC-31B.
Today Launch complexes 31 and 32 are secured by wire fencing protecting the memorial from trespass. The silos have been filled in and the service towers removed. It was quite haunting standing on the roof of LC-9 looking down towards the Challenger Memorial. I spent a few moments remembering the Challenger crew, the Columbia crew, and all the brave men and women who helped push the boundaries and explore the new frontier. We will remember you!