Friday, July 29, 2011
Farewell to MILA
The Merritt Island Launch Annex. Photo source: NASA.gov.
Florida Today reports that one of the oldest yet least known Space Coast landmarks is about to retire.
For 45 years, an unassuming tracking station tucked behind Kennedy Space Center provided critical data, telemetry and voice communication links to hundreds of launching rockets, circling satellites and landing shuttles.
But the station known as MILA — short for Merritt Island Launch Annex — supported its last mission this month with shuttle Atlantis' launch and safe return.
In a ceremony Thursday morning, NASA officially decommissioned the aging facility before some components are salvaged for other sites and the rest is demolished.
The article reports that MILA will be replaced by a new "state-of-the-art station" to support future NASA missions.
According to NASA.gov:
The first active mission support was the reception of television via S-Band during the Apollo/Saturn-203 mission, launched July 5, 1966 to study the performance of the liquid hydrogen fuel in the S-IVB during the boost stage to verify on-orbit restart capability.
Shortly afterward the station was equipped with a complete set of remote-site flight controller consoles in order to train Johnson Space Center engineers during prelaunch testing of the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM). These consoles were used until the end of the Apollo Program in December, 1972.