Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 46


Space Launch Complex 46
Athena-2 - Lunar Prospector 1.jpg
An Athena II at LC-46 prior to the launch of Lunar Prospector.
Launch siteCape Canaveral Space Force Station
Location28°27′30″N 80°31′42″W / 28.45833°N 80.52833°W / 28.45833; -80.52833Coordinates: 28°27′30″N 80°31′42″W / 28.45833°N 80.52833°W / 28.45833; -80.52833
Short nameSLC-46
OperatorUS Space Force
Space Florida
Launch history
First launchJanuary 15, 1987
Last launchJuly 2, 2019[1]
UGM-133 Trident II
Athena I
Athena II
Minotaur IV
Orion Abort Test Booster

The Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46), previously Launch Complex 46 (LC-46), is a launch complex at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station operated under license by Space Florida for Athena rocket launches.



During the construction of then-called LC-46, the nearby sounding rocket complex LC-43 was demolished. Its operations were transferred to LC-47.


SLC-46 was originally used for tests of the Trident II missile between 1987 and 1989. Following the completion of the Trident's land-based tests, the complex was deactivated.

Space Florida

In 1997, Space Florida began operations at the site, and was opened for commercial space operations. Lockheed Martin launched an Athena II and an Athena I from the pad in 1998 and 1999 respectively. The Athena II, launched January 7, 1998, carried the Lunar Prospector spacecraft which orbited the Moon. On January 27, 1999, the Athena I lifted off with Taiwan's first satellite, ROCSAT-1, carrying experimental communications, ocean imagery, and ionospheric studies instruments.

In March 2010, the USAF 45th Space Wing issued Real Property Licenses to Space Florida for Launch Complexes 36 and 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[2][3] On July 1, 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a Launch Site Operator's License for commercial launches at Launch Complex 46.[4]

On September 24, 2010, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast was awarded a $500,000 Defense Infrastructure Grant from the State of Florida to be used for critical communications upgrades at SLC-46.[5] In early 2014, Space Florida contracted with Alliant Techsystems (ATK) to begin phase three of the communications infrastructure refurbishment, with completion expected to take one year.[6]

In July 2015, the U.S. Air Force and Orbital ATK announced a Minotaur IV launched from SLC-46 would be used for the ORS-5 mission in 2017.[7][8] ORS-5 was successfully launched on August 26, 2017.[9]

Ascent Abort-2

On July 2, 2019, NASA launched a repurposed Peacekeeper missile from SLC-46, carrying the Orion spacecraft for the Ascent Abort-2 mission.[1] The mission's goal was to demonstrate and qualify the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) that will allow the astronaut crew to safely escape in the event of an emergency during launch pad operations, through the ascent phase of the Orion vehicle.


Astra plans on launching from SLC-46 as soon as soon as December 2021. They are planning for a launch cadence of once a month for 2 years.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Brown, Katherine (July 2, 2019). "Successful Orion Test Brings NASA Closer to Moon, Mars Missions". NASA. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "Air Force licenses two launch complexes for commercial use". Patrick Air Force Base. March 12, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  3. ^ Lange, Tina (March 12, 2010). "Space Florida secures licenses for Launch Complexes 46 and 36". Space Florida. Retrieved March 15, 2010.
  4. ^ Staff (July 9, 2010). "Space Florida receives FAA license for SLC-46". Space Florida. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  5. ^ "FL. Governor Crist Awards $500k Defense Infrastructure Grant for SLC-46". The Spacearium. October 4, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Messier, Doug (February 11, 2014). "ATK to Upgrade Space Florida's Launch Complex 46". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  7. ^ Clark, Stephen (July 9, 2015). "Minotaur rocket selected to launch military satellite in 2017". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  8. ^ Ray, Justin (February 12, 2017). "Teams practice for Cape Canaveral's first launch of Minotaur 4 rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  9. ^ Wall, Mike (August 26, 2017). "Converted Missile Launches Military Satellite to Track Spacecraft and Debris". Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  10. ^ "Confirmed: Astra to launch from SLC-46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station". Space Explored. November 17, 2021. Retrieved November 17, 2021.

External links

  • History of Launch Complex 46