Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) is an
installation of the US Air Force
Space Command's 45th Space Wing
(45 SW), headquartered at nearby Patrick Air Force Base. Located on Cape Canaveral in the State of Florida, CCAFS is
the primary Launch Head of the Eastern
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
(shown in dark green).
Patrick AFB provides headquarters and support
functions for the 45 SW, as well as a major airfield complex,
logistical air head and the full-service support functions of a
typical air force base. In addition to the facilities at Patrick AFB,
CCAFS also has its own separate airfield, the Cape Canaveral
AFS Skid Strip, which provides a 10,000 foot runway closer to the
launch complexes for military airlift aircraft delivering heavy and
outsized satellite payloads to the Cape.
also located adjacent to the NASA John F. Kennedy
Space Center on Merritt Island, with the two facilities linked by bridges and
The CCAFS area had been used by the United States government since
1949 when President Harry S.
established the Joint Long
Range Proving Grounds at Cape Canaveral to test missiles. The
location was among the best in the continental United States for
this purpose as it allowed for launches out over the Atlantic
Ocean, and it was closer to the equator
most other parts of the United States, allowing rockets to get a
boost from the Earth's rotation.
On 1 June 1948
U.S. Navy transferred the
former Naval Air Station Banana River to the U.S.
, with USAF renaming the
facility the Joint Long Range Proving Ground (JLRPG) Base on 10
June 1949. On 1 October 1949
, the Joint Long Range Proving Ground Base was
transferred from the Air Materiel Command to the Air Force Division
of the Joint Long Range Proving Ground. On 17 May 1950, the base was renamed
the Long Range Proving Ground Base, but three months later was
renamed Patrick Air
Force Base, in honor of Major General Mason Patrick.
In 1951, the Air Force
established the Air Force Missile
Early American sub-orbital
flights were achieved at Cape Canaveral in 1956. These flights were
shortly after some sub-orbital flights at White
Sands, like Viking 11
on May 24, 1954.
Following the Soviet Union's successful Sputnik 1, the US attempted its first launch of an artificial satellite from Cape Canaveral on December 6, 1957. However, the rocket carrying Vanguard TV3 blew up on the launch pad. NASA was founded in 1958 and Air Force crews launched missiles for NASA from CCAFS. Redstone, Jupiter, Pershing, Polaris, Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missiles were all tested from the site, the Thor becoming the basis for the expendable launch vehicle (ELV) Delta rocket, which launched Telstar 1 in July 1962. The row of Titan (LC-15, 16, 19, 20) and Atlas (LC-11, 12, 13, 14) launch pads along the coast came to be known as Missile Row in the 1960s. NASA's early manned spaceflights, Mercury and Gemini, were prepared for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pads LC-5, LC-14 and LC-19 by U.S. Air Force crews.
The Air Force chose to expand the capabilities of the Titan launch
vehicles for its heavy lift capabilities. The Air Force
constructed Launch Complexes 40 and 41 to launch Titan III and Titan IV rockets just south
of Kennedy Space
A Titan III has about the same payload
capacity as the Saturn IB
considerable cost savings. Launch Complex 40 and 41 have been used
to launch defense reconnaissance, communications and weather
satellites and NASA planetary missions. The Air Force also planned
to launch two Air Force manned space projects from LC 40 and 41.
They were the Dyna-Soar
, a manned orbital
rocket plane (cancelled in 1963) and the USAF Manned Orbital Laboratory
manned reconnaissance space station (cancelled in 1969).
From 1974-1977 the powerful Titan-Centaur became the new heavy lift
vehicle for NASA, launching the Viking
series of spacecraft from Launch
Complex 41. Complex 41 later became the launch site for the most
powerful unmanned U.S. rocket, the Titan
, developed by the Air Force.
Current use and limitations
Of the 47 Launch Complexes built since 1950
only four remain active with two planned for future use.
Complex SLC-17 is the home of the Delta
II. Launch Complexes SLC-37 and SLC-41 have now been modified to launch EELV Delta IV and
Atlas V launch vehicles,
These new launch vehicles will replace all
earlier Delta, Atlas, and Titan rockets. Launch Complex SLC-47
used to launch weather sounding rockets. Launch Complex
SLC-46 is reserved for future use by the Spaceport Florida
Authority. Launch Complex SLC-40 is expected to host the first launch of the
SpaceX Falcon 9 in
the fourth quarter of 2009.
In the case of low-inclination (geostationary) launches the
location of the area at 28°27′N put it at a slight disadvantage
against other launch facilities situated nearer the equator.
eastward from the earth's rotation is about 405 m/s (about 900
miles per hour) at Cape Canaveral against about 465 m/s (1,035
miles per hour) at the European Guiana Space Centre in French
case of high-inclination (polar) launches the latitude does not
matter, but the Cape Canaveral area is not suitable because
inhabited areas underlie these trajectories; Vandenberg
Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral's West coast counterpart, is used
File:CCAFS.jpg|Map of launch complexes.Image:Cape Canaveral
launch pad 39A and neighboring pad 39B.jpg|Launch pad 39A and
neighboring pad 39B.
Canaveral Air Force Station also contains the Air Force
Space & Missile Museum.
- CAST 1999, p. 1-12.
- CAST 1999, p. 1-5.
- Cape Canaveral LC5
- Encyclopedia Astronautica
- CAST 1999, p. 1-26.
- CAST 1999, p. 1-31.
- CAST 1999, p. 1-35.
- ASP: Up, Up, and Away
- CAST 1999, pp. 1-29 to 1-30.