Countdown Clock Touched Up for Future Missions

Yang Corrosion Control employee Harry Clark does some much needed painting to the countdown clock. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

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.

The wear and tear that the countdown clock has received over its decades of service is clearly visible in this image. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

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.

Beautiful sunrise shot of the clock that ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week during crewed missions. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios

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).

The countdown clock as it was during the Apollo era, a Saturn V rocket can be seen moving out to Launch Complex 39 in the far right of the image. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios
The clock was one of the main fixtures that the media would focus on during the space shuttle era. Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studios
Missions » Apollo »


  1. WHAT AN INTRIGUING SUBJECT FOR AN ARTICLE!!! Very imaginative…..the countdown clock seems to have NOTICEABLY ECHOED THE FORTUNES OF NASA…!!! I think we all have NOTICED THIS but did not comment…YOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS DO NOT MISS A NOOK OR A CRANNY!!!!

  2. One other thought….besides a paint job…perhaps an ENTIRE REVAMP…..SET CLOCK IN TERMS OF WEEKS, MONTHS & YEARS…………instead of hours, minutes & seconds!!!

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