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Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: Map


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Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (shown in dark green).

The 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 Basemarker. Located on Cape Canaveralmarker in the State of Floridamarker, CCAFS is the primary Launch Head of the Eastern Range. 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 Stripmarker, 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.

CCAFS is also located adjacent to the NASAmarker John F. Kennedy Space Centermarker on Merritt Islandmarker, with the two facilities linked by bridges and causeways.


The CCAFS area had been used by the United States government since 1949 when President Harry S. Truman 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 than most other parts of the United States, allowing rockets to get a boost from the Earth's rotation.

On 1 June 1948, the U.S. Navy transferred the former Naval Air Station Banana Rivermarker to the U.S. Air Force, 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 Basemarker, in honor of Major General Mason Patrick. In 1951, the Air Force established the Air Force Missile Test Center.

Early American sub-orbital rocket flights were achieved at Cape Canaveral in 1956. These flights were shortly after some sub-orbital flights at White Sandsmarker, 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. NASAmarker 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, 19marker, 20) and Atlas (LC-11, 12, 13, 14marker) 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-5marker, 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 40marker and 41marker to launch Titan III and Titan IV rockets just south of Kennedy Space Centermarker. A Titan III has about the same payload capacity as the Saturn IB at a 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 (MOL), a 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 and Voyager series of spacecraft from Launch Complex 41. Complex 41 later became the launch site for the most powerful unmanned U.S. rocket, the Titan IV, developed by the Air Force.

Current use and limitations

Launch Complexes

Of the 47 Launch Complexes built since 1950, only four remain active with two planned for future use. Launch Complex SLC-17marker is the home of the Delta II. Launch Complexes SLC-37marker and SLC-41marker have now been modified to launch EELV Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles, respectively. These new launch vehicles will replace all earlier Delta, Atlas, and Titan rockets. Launch Complex SLC-47 is used to launch weather sounding rockets. Launch Complex SLC-46marker is reserved for future use by the Spaceport Florida Authority. Launch Complex SLC-40marker 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. The boost 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 Centremarker in French Guianamarker.

In the 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 Basemarker, Cape Canaveral's West coast counterpart, is used instead.

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.


Cape Canaveral Air Force Station also contains the Air Force Space & Missile Museummarker.

See also


  1. CAST 1999, p. 1-12.
  2. CAST 1999, p. 1-5.
  3. Cape Canaveral LC5
  4. Encyclopedia Astronautica
  5. CAST 1999, p. 1-26.
  6. CAST 1999, p. 1-31.
  7. CAST 1999, p. 1-35.
  8. ASP: Up, Up, and Away
  9. CAST 1999, pp. 1-29 to 1-30.

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