It takes a lot of power to lift a giant rocket‘s payload all the way to orbit, and in the first moments of a rocket launch, all that energy is directed downward at a concrete pad. How do engineers design and protect launch pads? In this Practical Engineering video, Grady tackles just that question through a comparison of SpaceX’s Stage Zero and NASA’s Launch Pad 39A.
SpaceX notoriously chose to build Stage Zero without a trench or water sprayer system like the ones NASA use. Trenches deflect the rocket exhaust to reduce the impact on infrastructure beneath the engines. And water sprayers reduce the temperatures the pad experiences and disrupt shock waves that otherwise hammer the pad. Without those precautions, even special heavy-duty concretes have a hard time holding together against a launch. (Video and image credit: Practical Engineering)