Shuttle Blastoff Smashed Launch Pad

Force of liftoff scattered tons of concrete debris
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2008 5:39 AM CDT
Space Shuttle Discovery sits on launch pad 39A with the crew aboard at the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, May 31, 2008 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.    (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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(Newser) – The Discovery shuttle caused severe damage to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center when it blasted off Saturday, the Houston Chronicle reports. The force of the blast shattered a large section of one the trenches designed to direct shuttle exhaust away from the pad, scattering tons of concrete debris as far as 1,500 feet away.

NASA officials said the level of damage is unprecedented for a shuttle launch and are investigating. No debris is thought to have hit the shuttle itself, but the agency will need to have the launch pad back in working order in time for the next shuttle mission in October. Officials aren't sure why this launch caused so much damage but suspect the Apollo-era launch pads are simply getting old.