Watch: Demolition of twin towers at Cape Canaveral’s historic Launch Complex 17

Published July 12 2018
Updated July 12 2018

In a matter of seconds, two towers at Launch Complex 17 in Cape Canaveral collapsed in a cloud of dust Thursday morning, brought down by controlled explosions.

The towers, which hosted 325 launches of probes, spacecraft and more dating back to 1957, came crashing down around 7 a.m.

The demolition plan cost $2 million and had been in the works for years, according to Florida Today.

The last launch from the towers came on Sept. 10, 2011, when United Launch Alliance’s Delta II program sent gravity mapping probes to the moon for NASA.

The complex, and its towers, was originally built in 1956 for use with the PGM-17 Thor missile, the first operational ballistic missile the U.S. possessed, according to NASA. Its first two attempts to launch Thor missiles in 1957 ended in failure, however, as did other attempts in the complex’s 61-year history.

Of Launch Complex 17’s failed missions, the most damaging to outside property came in 1997 when a failed satellite mission led to more than 220 metric tons of debris falling within a kilometer of the launch pad, with one piece landing in a parking lot and destroying 20 vehicles, according to NASA. The complex’s next mission, in 1998, would go on to fail as well.

The complex, expanded in 1997, was the only launch pad that could accommodate the Delta II Heavy, which would regularly launch accident-free, from Launch Complex 17 from 2003 till the complex’s closure in 2011.

The site will now be occupied by Moon Express, a private company developing small lunar landers that NASA may use to send science instruments to the lunar surface in the next few years, according to Florida Today.