SpaceX's Latest Test Brings Rockets Back to NASA's Most Famous Launch Pad

A thick plume of visible venting of super-chilled liquid oxygen vapors rose out of the flame pit at the 39A Launch Complex, marking the first time the launch site had been used since the last space shuttle mission blasted off from the site on July 8, 2011.

"Targeting Feb. 18 for Dragon's next resupply mission to the @Space_Station - our 1st launch from LC-39A at @NASA's Kennedy Space Center", SpaceX posted on Twitter. SpaceX will conduct a hold-down firing of the Falcon 9's engines this weekend at the historic launch site in preparation for next Saturday's liftoff of Cargo Resupply Service Mission 10.

NASA's Launch Pad 39A was reignited by static fire during a pre-flight test on Sunday in preparation for a February 18 launch of SpaceX Falcon 9. "We are honored to be allowed to use it", Musk wrote.

Throughout the decades-long shuttle program, NASA's spacecraft - Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour - carried people into orbit, launched and maintained satellites, and made it possible for humans to build the space station.

Repairs to the launch pad are underway.

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The tests showed that both first stage engines as well as the rocket are ready for launch.

NASA started modifying 39A in 1975 for the Space Shuttle Program.

Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida seen in November 2015 as it was undergoing modifications to adapt it to the needs of SpaceX's Falcon rockets.

Though the delays are necessary to ensure astronaut safety, they put pressure on NASA because of the high cost of sending astronauts to the space station.

The usual launch for the SpaceX rockets was assigned to launchpad 40. "If the Commercial Crew Program experiences additional delays, NASA may need to buy additional seats from Russian Federation to ensure a continued U.S. presence on the ISS". Before the company renovated the launch pad, it hosted many historic launches, including Apollo 11 to the moon. If Space X can prove its reusable rocket system is viable, it will begin making big savings on future rocket launches and can price itself accordingly.