The evolution of the Space Launch Complexes took another leap forwards with LC-13. Launch Complex 13 was the first of the launch sites at Cape Canaveral to have an integral loading ramp.
The loading ramp was designed so that the rocket could be delivered to the launch pad on a low loader which was reversed up the ramp. Once in place the rocket was erected and the transport removed. The loading ramp cannot be seen from the view to the left as it is behind the rocket and the umbilical gantry. See below for a modern image of the ramp.
This complex is the first to have a lot of infrastructure actually built into the launch pad, a lot of which still survives today. Interestingly there are a pair of aluminium doors leading into work areas that flap around in the breeze today.
Missions flown from this pad include OPS, AFP, OGO, Lunar Orbiter, Vela and Mariner 3.
Between February 1962 and October 1963 the pad was converted for use by the Atlas-Agena rockets. The modifications to the pad were more extensive than the conversions of LC-12 and LC-14, with the mobile service tower being demolished and replaced with a new, larger tower.
As can be seen from the image to the left LC-13 had a huge service structure that was mounted on a twin rail system. The service structure was rolled back for launch into the position that this image was taken from.
From its first launch on August 2 1958 until the last launch on April 7 1978 52 rockets were launched from LC-13. The USAF operated the site until 1966 when it was turned over to NASA for 6 flights before being returned to the USAF .
Today the launch complex has had it’s metal superstructures demolished. The demolition on August 6th 2005 was by controlled explosion after which it was cut up and the remains dragged away. This can be clearly seen by the gouges in the concrete. Up until recently this was the preferred method of removing disused launch structures that had become unstable. This changed with Launch Complex 39B (Saturn V, Shuttle, and Ares) as the complex is expected to be re-purposed for future launches.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-13 Launch Record
4/6/1978 Atlas Agena D – OPS 8790 (AFP-472)
12/11/1977 Atlas Agena D – OPS 4258 (AFP-472)
5/23/1977 Atlas Agena D – OPS 9751 (AFP-827)
6/18/1975 Atlas Agena D – OPS 4966 (AFP-827)
3/6/1973 Atlas Agena D – OPS 6063 (AFP-720)
12/20/1972 Atlas Agena D – OPS 9390 (AFP-827)
12/4/1971 Atlas Agena D – AFP-827
8/31/1970 Atlas Agena D – OPS 7329 (AFP-827)
6/19/1970 Atlas Agena D – OPS 5346 (AFP-720)
4/12/1969 Atlas Agena D – OPS 3148 (AFP-827)
8/6/1968 Atlas Agena D – OPS 2222 (AFP-827)
3/4/1968 Atlas Agena D – OGO 5
8/1/1967 Atlas Agena D – Lunar Orbiter 5
5/4/1967 Atlas Agena D – Lunar Orbiter 4
2/4/1967 Atlas Agena D – Lunar Orbiter 3
11/6/1966 Atlas Agena D – Lunar Orbiter 2
8/10/1966 Atlas Agena D – Lunar Orbiter 1
7/20/1965 Atlas Agena D – Vela 3
11/5/1964 Atlas Agena D – Mariner 3
7/17/1964 Atlas Agena D – Vela 2
10/17/1963 Atlas Agena D – Vela
9/18/1958 Atlas B
8/2/1958 Atlas B