Which orbital launch vehicle has been "getting around" the most? Which rocket has put things in orbit from the largest number of different launch sites?

For the purposes of this question, allow for some flexibility; adding an extra side booster doesn't necessarily make it a different rocket. Two launch adjacent launch pads don't count as different sites, but Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and KSC would be different.

Launches from mobile launch platforms (on the ocean or land) shouldn't necessarily be counted as different just because each launch coordinate is slightly different, but use of different ports, or substantially different areas at sea would.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I like this question and it definitely has a canonical answer as of this point in spacetime. However, I’m concerned that the answer to this question is likely to change over time. Perhaps there is a way to modify this question so that the answer withstands the test of time... $\endgroup$ – Paul Nov 7 '18 at 1:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Apollo Lunar Module has put itself into orbit from a number of lunar sites, which seems like it should be notable. I'll let someone more learned decide if that's within the scope of this question. $\endgroup$ – Roger Nov 7 '18 at 15:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Roger I would certainly consider that a good answer. I've mentioned that interpretation should be flexible, and launch from an airplane is something I didn't expect but it certainly fits. Launch from the Moon is at least from the surface of a body, much more of a launch site than an airplane's underbelly. I'd say just go for it in this case. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '18 at 15:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Puffin I'm using something like $d_{tot}=d_{t}+d_{ap}$ where $d$ stands for distance measured in "difficulty" units. There is both transportation difficulty or $d_t$ which measures how hard and far it would be to change your mind and move a rocket from one site to the other, and administrative and programatic difficulty which is sort-of self explanatory and redundant. Looking at ...difference between Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center? it sounds like it wouldn't be so easy to change your mind at the last minute and move between sites. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 8 '18 at 1:32
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @RedSonja I'd thought about working "strap-on" in there somehow, in place of "adding an extra side booster" but then I thought it just got weird. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 8 '18 at 12:08

The Apollo Lunar Module has launched from six lunar sites:

Apollo 11 — Mare Tranquillitatis

Apollo 12 — Oceanus Procellarum

Apollo 14 — Fra Mauro

Apollo 15 — Hadley/Apennines

Apollo 16 — Descartes

Apollo 17 — Taurus-Littrow

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Great! Launch sides on good-old Terra firma oh, that's Luna firma in this case. At least none of this air or water launching; these are real, solid launch sites, equipped with real launch platforms $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '18 at 16:04
  • 17
    $\begingroup$ Launching from a Mare scores half a point for water launch. $\endgroup$ – Roger Nov 7 '18 at 16:05
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Super answer! +1 $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 7 '18 at 16:12
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Technically correct -- the best kind of correct! (Usually when I make this comment I don't mean it as a compliment, but this is the exception.) $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Nov 7 '18 at 16:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Plus one "air" launch (Apollo 10). $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Nov 7 '18 at 16:33

Pegasus, whose carrier plane has lifted off from

  1. Edwards AFB
  2. Cape Canaveral
  3. Wallops Flight Facility
  4. Base Aerea de Gando, Gran Canaria, Spain
  5. Vandenberg AFB
  6. Kwajalein Atoll

on successful space launch missions.

enter image description here

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Aha! I totally forgot about air-launches, but indeed this jet-setting rocket certainly "gets around" quite a bit. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '18 at 4:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn I think they kinda ground ruled this out: "Launches from mobile launch platforms (on the ocean or land) shouldn't necessarily be counted as different just because each launch coordinate is slightly different, " (although air launch isn't specifically listed, I thought this applied) $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 10 '18 at 13:56

The Soyuz booster have been launched from:

  • Baikonur
  • Plesetsk
  • Kourou
  • Vostochny

Making it the only rocket to have been launched from 3 (4 if you count USSR) different countries and 3 different continents !

Contenders would be: the Falcon 9, launched from

  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Cape Canaveral

Tied with Minotaur IV and Athena 1

  • Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • Kodiak
  • Cape Canaveral
  • $\begingroup$ you count KSC and Cape Canaveral as 2 sites? $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Nov 7 '18 at 7:18
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @Hobbes I wouldn't, but OP specified they should be treated as different spaceports. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Nov 7 '18 at 8:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Soyuz has been launched from Plesetsk as well. If you count the number of distinct pads its 8: 4 at Plesetsk, some decomissioned now, 2 at Baikonur and one at each of the other two. Complicated, because I think the Russian pads are at the same base but not "adjacent" in the terms of the OP question. $\endgroup$ – Puffin Nov 7 '18 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Puffin I had totally forgotten about this ! Since they share the same name I think we can consider them as the same spaceport? $\endgroup$ – Antzi Nov 7 '18 at 16:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For KSC versus Cape Canaveral see this comment. new question: How far is Cape Canaveral from Kennedy Space Center, administratively and programmatically? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 8 '18 at 3:30


  • 1
    $\begingroup$ yes, that's the one $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Nov 7 '18 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ not so fast ! It’s a tie with the Soyuz, see my edit thanks to Puffin :-) $\endgroup$ – Antzi Nov 7 '18 at 16:15
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Kerbal Space Center is a fictional location... wait... oh. I've been playing that game too much, haven't I? $\endgroup$ – Coomie Nov 8 '18 at 1:32
  • $\begingroup$ Where is the San Marco Launch Platform now? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 30 '18 at 4:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.