Flame Trench-Deflector System
The flame trench, built with concrete and refractory brick, bisects the pad at ground level. It is 490 feet long, 58 feet wide and 42 feet deep. The flame deflector system includes an inverted, V-shaped steel structure covered with a high-temperature concrete material five inches thick that extends across the center of the flame trench. One side of the "V" receives and deflects the flames from the orbiter main engines; the opposite side deflects the flames from the solid rocket boosters. There are also two movable deflectors at the top of the trench to provide additional protection to shuttle hardware from the solid rocket booster flames.
Image to left: With the rotating service structure rolled back, Space Shuttle Discovery is revealed, poised for launch on mission STS-102 at 6:42 a.m. EST March 8. It sits on the mobile launcher platform, which straddles the flame trench below that helps deflect the intense heat of launch. Situated above the external tank is the gaseous oxygen vent arm with the "beanie cap," a vent hood. Credit: NASA/KSC
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center