# Where is the San Marco Launch Platform now?

@Hobbes's answer to a question about gregarious rockets mentions the San Marco platform of the Broglio_Space_Center.

That Wikipedia lists the following coordinates: 2°56′18″S 40°12′45″E and that link gives the decimal values as -2.938333, 40.2125. Typing "2.938333S, 40.2125E" into google maps does take me (just barely) off the coast of Ngomeni, Kenya, but images just shows blue water, no converted oil drilling platform.

Is this a portable platform that's moored somewhere else? Are the coordinates incorrect? Has it been taken away for good? Are google maps images just old and it really is at these coordinates? Something else?

The San Marco launch platform complex was in use from March 1964 to March 1988, with a total of 27 launches, primarily sounding rockets including the Nike Apache, Nike Tomahawk, Arcas and Black Brant launchers. Low payload weight orbital launches were also made, using the solid-propellant Scout rocket (in its B, D and G subvariants). The first satellite specifically for X-ray astronomy, Uhuru, was launched from San Marco on a Scout B rocket on 12 December 1970.

The ground station is in use and continues to track NASA, ESA and Italian satellites. However, the two platforms fell into disrepair during the 1990s. Recently, the Italian Space Agency has conducted a feasibility study to reactivate it for the Russian launcher START-1.

• Have you seen this? astronautix.com/s/sanmarco.html – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 14:33
• @AlexHajnal By 2003 the platforms were in a very decrepit state and the scrap yard beckoned. – uhoh Dec 30 '18 at 14:40
• Yea, well there's only so much you can tell from 1.7 meter/pixel imagery. It looked like it might've survived; guess not. :^( – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 14:45

What appears to be the launch platform can be found here. The marker ~500 meters to the NNW of the launch platform is where Wikipedia claims the site is. Based on the image quality I'd guess the satellite photo was taken sometime in the 2010s; the citation on the ArcGIS online map gives the date as 20171. If that's true, it's held up pretty well! (Unfortunately not)

Satellite view (2017-03-20) (north is up)

Left-to-right: Control platform (1.1 km from launch platform), Unknown (600 m from launch platform), Launch platform

Source: Esri via Acme Mapper / OpenStreetMap Sweden3
The dimesions of the launch platform are 90 meters × 30 meters

Sea-level view of launch platform (1974) (looking north-west) Source: NASA courtesy John Ives and John Raymont via Wikipedia, public domain

Sea-level view of control platform (1974) (looking north-west) Source: NASA courtesy John Ives and John Raymont, public domain

1 From the ArcGIS.com map:
Date imaged: 2017-03-20, Resolution2: 0.50 meters, Accuracy: 10.20 meters,
Satellite: WorldView2, Source: DigitalGlobe (Vivid)

"Date imaged" has been verified as correct.

2 The image included above has been downsampled to ~1.67 meters per pixel.

3 Tiles © Esri — Source: Esri, i-cubed, USDA, USGS, AEX, GeoEye, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, UPR-EGP, and the GIS User Community, Tiles courtesy of OpenStreetMap Sweden

• I can't do any better than say where it likely was ca. 2010. Sorry. – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 8:00
• In my work I do a lot of interpretation of aerial imagery. The resolution, quality, colors, etc. point to a post-2010 date in my opinion. I'd give a margin of error of maybe -5,+8 years on my 2010 estimate, later being more likely. – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 8:04
• @uhoh That's because it has been deliberately blurred. Google feathers the edges of their satellite imagery around coastlines over a shaded relief map of the seabed based on bathymetric data . – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 8:27
• @uhoh I found a citation for that sat image giving 2017 as the date, see the answer. Knowing how these things go that date is either accurate or the image was likely taken in mid-to-late 2016. – Alex Hajnal Dec 30 '18 at 10:03
• There are even better resolution images by DigitalGlobe: imgur.com/a/GPcHhSp – asdfex Dec 30 '18 at 13:24