Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center are both at pretty much the same location in Florida. I do not understand why they are referenced separately in media.

How much are they separate entities? Is there any significant difference between the two? For example, are launches from each subject to different regulations for the launch provider?

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    $\begingroup$ I get confused as well. Now that everybody calls it what sounds to me exactly like "KFC" I get even more confused. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2018 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ ..throw in 'KSP' as well, and the confusion is complete:) $\endgroup$ Jul 9, 2018 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


Supplementary answer:

Some of the confusion arises because there is also a geographic feature named Cape Canaveral. It's pretty much the green area shown in the other answer, east of the Banana River. On this geographic feature Cape Canaveral is built Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Today's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is built on Merritt Island.

Even more confusingly, in 1963 then-President Johnson named the geographic feature Cape Kennedy and the NASA site after President John Kennedy. (At the time what we now know as KSC was called the Launch Operations Center.) After the renaming we had Kennedy Space Center (not located on Cape Kennedy, but on Merritt Island) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (located on Cape Kennedy).

This drove the locals crazy, and in 1973 the state of Florida renamed the geographic feature Cape Canaveral, leading to the current situation.

And of course, in NASA parlance, "the Cape" is KSC. sigh

Need more? There is a town named Merritt Island and a town named Cape Canaveral! Fortunately, these are located on the appropriately named geographic features.

Year Geographic Area Facility Town
Cape Canaveral Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Cape Canaveral
Merritt Island Launch Operations Center Merritt Island
Cape Kennedy Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Cape Canaveral
Merritt Island Kennedy Space Center Merritt Island
Cape Canaveral Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Cape Canaveral
Merritt Island Kennedy Space Center Merritt Island

Today there is no such place as Cape Kennedy! Be in the cool kids club by never saying that phrase.


Wikipedia: Cape Canaveral

Space.com: KSC

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    $\begingroup$ Almost all the launch complexes / pads are on CCAFS property, only the old Apollo/Shuttle pages (launch complex 39) are on NASA property. So practically all the launches are from CCAFS. There's a lot of overlap! NASA missions like New Horizons launch from CCAFS complexes....and there was one badging office for both, my badges said "NASA / CCAFS". $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ When I visited there in 2011, it was explained that Kennedy Space Center was only used for manned launches and all unmanned launches (which are more numerous) occurred at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. That of course was back when they were still doing manned launches from pad 39A with the space shuttle. Now 39A is used by SpaceX for unmanned launches as well, though they are working toward manned missions. $\endgroup$
    – Seth R
    Jun 27, 2018 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble Gotcha. Yes, it was the "practically all the launches are from CCAFS" part to which I was responding. Makes more sense if just referring to the current situation. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jun 27, 2018 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry it wasn't clear, would fix, but it's a comment and timed out. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ OK, this is all much too confusing. Can we all just agree to use the term "The Rockety Place in Florida"? $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 21:38

Cape Canaveral is composed of two items, the Kennedy Space Center, run by NASA, and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, run by the Air Force. Because they are two very different organizations, the rules are quite different for each. See this map from Wikipedia to show the different locations. Note that Kennedy (NASA) owns launch pad 39a and b, while the rest of the launch pads are owned by the Air Force in Canaveral.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Technically KSC is not on Cape Canaveral the geographic feature. KSC is on Merrit Island. The Cape iis everything to the east of the Banana River. See my supplementary answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2018 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ So I guess I was right in the first place? Sigh... I give up. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jun 27, 2018 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting to see that only the Kennedy Space Center has a USB port. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2018 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ @curiousdannii The military doesn't like USB ports, due the providing a medium for easily exfiltrating information. So, that's probably why NASA has one and the Air Force doesn't. That, or because the DoD regs to approve the use of USB were only started in the mid-1990s and, thus, haven't finished the approval process, yet. One of those. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jun 28, 2018 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @curiousdannii It's terrible to park there - first you pull into the stall, then you pull out and try backing in, then you pull out again and pull in like normal and you can finally park your car. $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Jun 29, 2018 at 20:14

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