China launches new mission to space station

China sent a fresh crew to its Tiangong space station on Thursday, in the latest mission for a growing space program that plans to send people to the Moon by 2030.

Crunch time for Phoebus before testing

Launching things into space is hard. Aside from the engines and software, orbital calculations and the launch pad, the tanks that hold the fuel are a masterful example of engineering in their own right. And ESA will soon ...

Q&A: The first asteroid sample returned to Earth

On Sunday morning, a capsule the size of a mini-fridge dropped from the skies over western Utah, carrying a first-of-its-kind package: about 250 grams of dirt and dust plucked from the surface of an asteroid. As a candy-striped ...

Exploring the lunar south pole: Lessons from Chandrayaan-3

On August 23 the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon's south pole, a location that has always been of particular interest to scientists due to the unique conditions created ...

Trial by fire for the Ariane 6 upper stage

Validation testing continues for ESA's all-new Ariane 6 launch vehicle, with firing of its two upper stage engines to simulate the way they will have to operate together during a flight.

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Launch pad

A launch pad is the area and facilities where rockets or spacecrafts liftoff. A Spaceport (or rocket launch site) can contain one or many launch pads. A typical launch pad consists of the service and umbilical structures. The service structure provides an access platform to inspect the launch vehicle prior to launch. Most service structures can be moved or rotated to a safe distance. The umbilical structure has propellent loading, gas, power, and communication links to the launch vehicle. The launch vehicle sits atop of the launch platform, which has the flame deflection structure to withstand the intense heat and load generated by rocket engines during liftoff.

Most cryogenic launch vehicles need to be continuously topped off as scheduled liftoff approaches. This is particularly necessary as various holds are placed on the liftoff and then removed as support personnel correct problems or verify they are not serious. Without the ability to top off the launch vehicle, the launch would have to be scrubbed when problems slowed down the countdown. Gantries are commonly designed and constructed on launch pads to meet these types of servicing requirements both during launch and in the preparation period leading up to it.

Most rockets need stable support for a few seconds after ignition while the engines ramp up and stabilize at full thrust. This stability requirement is commonly met by the use of explosive bolts to connect the launch vehicle to the pad. When the vehicle is stable and ready to fly the bolts explode, severing the vehicle's ties to the launch pad and structures on the ground.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA