# Selection of rocket launch sites [duplicate]

Viewed from above the North pole, earth's rotation is seen to be "anti-clockwise". Given this fact, any rockets launched from the eastern coast of U.S. have more chances of falling back onto inhabited areas to the west of a launch site, (in case of a defective launch / rocket failure) than falling in the "North Atlantic Ocean". I am aware that the rockets forward (towards east) speed is perhaps much faster than the speed at which Earth rotates, however, for theoretical purposes, in case the rocket speed is insufficient, this might happen. So, the question is why did the US choose almost all of their launch sites for non-military rockets, on their eastern coast & not the western coast near California?

• When you jump in the air does the ground beneath you move east at ~100's of m/s because the Earth is rotating? Consider brushing up on Newton's laws of motion & Inertial frame of reference Jan 7, 2022 at 17:03
• "Given this fact, any rockets launched from the eastern coast of U.S. have more chances of falling back onto inhabited areas to the west of a launch site," This conclusion is completely erroneous. The inherent eastward speed of the rocket due to the Earth's rotation does not vanish when it lifts off. Jan 7, 2022 at 17:11
• "Given this fact, any rockets launched from the eastern coast of U.S. have more chances of falling back onto inhabited areas to the west of a launch site," Sorry, that is not a fact, it is a fallacy. Your whole question is based on this falsehood. Jan 7, 2022 at 17:15
• Don't worry about all the pile-on comments. A single comment would have done. Another thing to keep in mind is that in addition to things leaving earth already having the same rotational velocity as the Earth, the Earth's atmosphere also rotates with the surface. So (luckily) there aren't any forces that would tend to bring a rocket launched in one direction down faster than a rocket launched in the other direction.
– uhoh
Jan 7, 2022 at 21:04
• I don't think this is a duplicate of the cited candidate question because that question does not address the fundamental misunderstanding in this question. And just because there is a fundamental misunderstanding does not mean we should downvote. We should instead address that misunderstanding in an answer. Jan 8, 2022 at 12:37

Non-polar orbit missions overflying the entirety of the US on every flight (From the West coast, flying eastward) would seem to be a lot more risky, than the extreme example of risk from an East coast launch cited.

Polar launches have simpler flight paths from the West coast, (No need to dodge Cuba, or the Bahamas) vs the East coast. SpaceX has recently demonstrated you can fly polar missions from the East coast, but there is a payload penalty.

Your question is loaded. The premise that the US chose almost all their launch sites for non-military rockets on the eastern coast is patently false.

(source)

The choice of where to launch a rocket is discussed in answers to Briefly, what are the factors to consider when choosing a launch site?.

• The vast majority of those spaceports do not launch into space. The Pacific Spaceport Complex in Alaska, the sites at/near Vandenberg, the sites at/near Cape Canaveral, and the sites at/near Wallops Island are qualified to launch vehicles into space. SpaceX is attempting to have its South Texas site qualified as such. All of those mid continental spaceports do not. Jan 8, 2022 at 11:32
• @DavidHammen: Virgin Galactic has launched to space seven times from Spaceport America and Blue Origin has launched to space nineteen times from Launch Site One aka Corn Ranch, both of which are mid-continental. And SpaceX has launched to space from Kwajalein, which is admittedly not mid-continental, but not near Vandenberg, Cape Canaveral, or Wallops, either, just like the other two. Jan 8, 2022 at 23:03
• @JörgWMittag Virgin Galactic is not making orbital launches yet, nor is Blue. The risk of accelerating to Mach 25 is a lot more than the much, much lesser speeds that Virgin and Blue use. Jan 9, 2022 at 2:49