Complex 37

Started in 1959 and accepted in 1963, this complex was built by NASA for the SATURN IB program. Complex 37 supported a total of eight SATURN launches. The first flight of an unmanned APOLLO lunar module was part of the Complex 37 support. The site was mothballed and the service structures scrapped in 1972. NASA retains ownership of this site and uses some the outbuildings for offices. Complex 37 was selected as the launch site for the Boeing Delta IV launch vehicle configuration. The old Saturn IB pad, LC-37, was refurbished for launching the Atlas V.

Complex 37 was built in 1962, and it was occupied by NASA in January 1963. Complex 37 supported eight SATURN I and SATURN IB missions, including the first flight of an unmanned APOLLO lunar module, between 29 January 1964 and 23 January 1968. Complexes 34 and 37 were mothballed in November 1971, and their service structures were scrapped in April 1972. NASA retained control of both complexes, and both sites became NASA tour stops.

The complexes remained dormant well into the 1990s, but Complex 37 eventually reemerged to support a new space launch vehicle program in the early 2000s. On 8 June 1998, Boeing received a Right of Entry (ROE) to Complex 37 for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, the DELTA IV.

Boeing also received its ROE to the Centaur Processing Facility in October 1998, and the company began transforming the Centaur Processing Building (Building 38835) into a technical support facility for the DELTA IV staff. On 30 April 1999, Boeing signed long-term leases for Complex 37, a DELTA IV complex and substation, a 25-acre site for the new Horizontal Integration Facility, and a four-acre support facilities area. Boeing also signed short-term (e.g., five-year) licensing agreements for the RIS Building, SRS Building, and a portion of Hangar E.

Boeing's plan for DELTA IV operations at the Cape revolved around the following facilities and functional areas:

  • Complex 37 (including a Support Equipment Building and a Launch Support Shelter)
  • The Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF)
  • The Precision Clean Lab (PCL - Building 43400)
  • DELTA IV Complex (i.e., astride the old Centaur Processing Facility. It included the DELTA IV Operations Center [DOC], the Flight Hardware Building [FHB] and the Technical Support Building [TSB])
  • DELTA IV Substation (Pump House 5)
  • Solids Area (RIS and SRS Buildings)

Boeing awarded Raytheon the overall contract to rebuild Complex 37. However, in June 1999 Boeing signed an agreement with the Spaceport Florida Authority (SFA) to finance and build the DELTA IV Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF). The SFA agreed to sponsor the facility and lease it back to Boeing under a long-term agreement. The SFA signed a contract with Haskell Engineering (Jacksonville, Florida) to build the seven-story-high structure. Work on the HIF began in August 1999, and it went well. Workers erected the facility's structural steel and most of its siding in 1999. Administrative areas were under construction at the end of the year.

By the end of 1999, construction on Complex 37 was approximately 45% complete. Contractors poured more than 32,000 cubic yards of concrete to build the complex's Launch Support Shelter, Launch Deck, Flame Duct, and foundations for its gas farms. Workers excavated the pit for the Fixed Platform Erector (FPE), and builders got to work on the Launch Support Shelter's rooms. The Support Equipment Building (SEB) refurbishment effort was well underway in 1999. While some contractors removed hazardous materials from the SEB, others resurfaced the facility's roof. Technicians were installing electrical and air-conditioning systems in the SEB by year's end. The 250,000-gallon Liquid Oxygen (LOX) tank on Complex 37 was built and hydro-tested in 1999, and the site's 850,000-gallon Liquid Hydrogen tank was 95% complete.

On 2 March 2000, Raytheon "topped off" the new 330-foot-tall Mobile Service Tower (MST). Contractor personnel started working on the fixed Umbilical Tower (UT) in March, and they completed the job in November 2000. Astrotech started building the DELTA IV Satellite Processing Facility in March 2000. Inside the DELTA IV Operations Building, workers completed construction of the Launch Control Center (LCC) and the Mission Directors Center (MDC). Technicians added consoles and launch control equipment to the LCC before the end of the year. Following completion of the HIF in June 2000, Boeing held a dedication ceremony for the HIF on 11 September 2000. In the meantime, the 65 x 45 x 23-foot Launch Table (weighing 600 tons) was delivered to the Kennedy Space Center Press Site Wharf via barge. Workers transported the Launch Table to Complex 37. Once there, they bolted it to the launch deck in November 2000. The first of two Elevating Platform Transporters (used to move booster cores and satellites) arrived in June 2000. The Precision Clean Lab and the DELTA IV Machine Shop were completed in September 2000.

In October 2000, Durocher Dock & Dredge completed a $1,387,749 contract to prepare the Air Force Wharf for DELTA IV offloading operations at Port Canaveral. The DELTA IV Mariner, which was built to transport DELTA IV boosters and other components from the DELTA IV factory in Decatur, Alabama, made its first visit to the wharf on 15 October 2000. Canaveral Construction completed a $225,000 contract in October 2000 to modify the roadway between Poseidon Avenue, Phillips Parkway, and the DELTA IV Complex for the EELV program. In addition, a nine-mile-long high-pressure helium pipeline from the Kennedy Space Center Helium Facility to Complex 37 was commissioned on 2 November 2000.

Sadly, as Boeing, Raytheon, and various subcontractors completed their tasks on Complex 37 in 2001, two fatal accidents occurred. On 8 July 2001, a subcontracted employee was killed when a pipe he was disconnecting broke loose under pressure and struck him in the head. Three other workers were injured, but they were released after treatment at a local hospital. On 1 October 2001, Bill Brooks, a Boeing employee, was killed atop Complex 37's MST when he was pinned between a crane and a support structure. The accident occurred around 6:00 p.m. Mr. Brooks was pronounced dead on arrival at the Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach. The government's Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) investigated both accidents.

Among the many DELTA IV-related efforts at the Cape in 2001, three milestones stand out: 1) DELTA IV pathfinder operations, 2) arrival of the first DELTA IV space launch vehicle, and 3) the Complex 37 Dedication Ceremony. Concerning the first milestone, a DELTA IV Static Test Common Booster Core (CBC) was used as the pathfinder vehicle. The Delta IV Mariner delivered the pathfinder to Port Canaveral on 29 May 2001, and workers transported the booster to the HIF to ensure compatibility with Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) and working areas inside the HIF. Following pathfinder operations in the HIF, technicians moved the CBC to Complex 37 on 22 August 2001 to continue the pathfinder process. The booster was placed on the Fixed Pad Erector (FPE) and erected on the Launch Table on 23 August 2001. Pathfinder operations continued at the launch pad through 15 October 2001 to ensure the launch platform was configured properly and the vehicle had enough clearance. In the meantime, the first DELTA IV upper stage arrived at Complex 37 on 10 September 2001.

Initially, technicians installed the DELTA IV upper stage in Bay 3 of the DELTA IV Operations Center. Following a nozzle extension demonstration, the DELTA IV upper stage was moved into Bay 1 of the HIF to begin power-on testing on 7 November 2001. Technicians completed upper stage telemetry bus voltage measurements on 8 November, and they verified proper operation of the upper stage's rocket engine modules on 9 November 2001. (The test marked the first use of the DELTA IV Guidance Computer at the launch site.) In the meantime, the Delta IV Mariner delivered the First Flight CBC to Port Canaveral on 4 October 2001. Workers moved the First Flight CBC to the HIF where mechanical and electrical pathfinder operations were soon underway. Workers transferred the upper stage to a cradle pallet on 21 November, and the DELTA IV upper stage was "soft" mated to the First Flight CBC on 29 November 2001. Technicians completed a hard mate of the two stages on 13 December 2001.

Boeing hosted the Complex 37 Dedication Ceremony at the HIF on 9 October 2001. More than 450 guests attended the ceremony. The Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. James G. Roche, was the keynote speaker. Other dignitaries included Harry C. Stonecipher (Vice Chairman, Boeing), Congressman Dave Weldon, Mrs. Darlene Druyun (Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management), and Florida Lieutenant Governor Frank T. Brogan. The ceremony marked the official completion of Complex 37's reconstruction for DELTA IV operations. In its new streamlined configuration, Complex 37 would be able to process and launch all five variants of the DELTA IV. The first DELTA IV launch was anticipated around June 2002. Once DELTA IV operations became routine, Boeing hoped its launch team would be able to process and launch a DELTA IV within 30 days of its arrival at the Cape. Boeing designed the new equipment and procedures to reduce on-pad time from about 22 days (for the DELTA II) to about 10 days (for the DELTA IV). Together with other innovations, the reduction in processing time translated to costs savings for Boeing and its customers.

Boeing launched its first DELTA IV from Complex 37 on 20 November 2002. The first "military" DELTA IV mission was launched from Pad 37B (the only pad on the complex) on 11 March 2003. On 29 August 2003, Pad 37B supported the last of 14 DSCS III military communications satellites launched over a period of 22 years. The first DELTA IV Heavy, featuring three Common Booster Cores (CBCs), was launched from Pad 37B on 21 December 2004.

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