CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Out in the Florida sunshine and surviving thunderstorms, rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes and even a rare snow flurry sits the large illuminated digital countdown clock. Close to the edge of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center‘s (KSC) turn basin facing the press site this is one of the most-watched timepieces in the world. Recently this historic landmark received a touch up.
Included in television coverage and launch photos this clock dates back to the Apollo days. Using standard incandescent 40 watt light bulbs the timepiece is controlled from a room in the Launch Control Center (LCC). From this location the ‘Timing & Imaging Support Group’ technicians monitor and distribute the official time to NASA facilities including firing rooms. Before a launch, the clock counts down, showing the remaining time until T-zero, after launch the clock counts forward in + mission elapsed time.
About a week before launch activity the clock bulbs are checked and replaced as needed. Now that the space shuttle era is over, the clock will not go dark, it will illuminate the countdown of NASA launches that liftoff from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).