Launch towers at Cape Canaveral demolished in planned explosion

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The plot, originally designated Launch Complex 17 was built to support testing of the first operational ballistic missile of the United States "Thor".

Launch Complex 17 was set for demolition at 7 a.m.

A historic launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station came crashing down in a controlled implosion on Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the Air Force's 45th Space Wing, presided over a brief demolition ceremony that closed a storied chapter in Cape history, while opening another that could see the private sector take a lead role in exploration. "We are getting ready to leap into the future".

The towers were responsible for launching the Delta II rocket on its mission to send three rovers to Mars: Sojourner (aboard Pathfinder) in 1996; as well as Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

One more Delta II launch remains, planned this September from California.

For more than 60 years of operation of these facilities, they had been launched about 100 rockets.

The rubble of SLC-17 will be cleared away to make room for Moon Express. While the XPrize itself ended without a victor, Moon Express and some other contestants aren't giving up on their goal of landing a spacecraft on the Moon.

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