Questions tagged [launch-site]

Questions on launch complexes, spaceports or other locales for the launch of spacecraft.

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74 votes
7 answers
16k views

Why is the American space program launch site based in Florida and not Texas?

In other words, why didn't NASA make their main space launch area in Texas? It has a point below the 30th parallel, which means that it is close enough to the equator. Why did NASA pick Florida?
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60 votes
5 answers
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What are the towers around the SpaceX launch pad used for?

I noticed four(?) towers around the SpaceX launch pad during yesterday's aborted launch Image credit NBC News What are the towers used for? Tracking? Radio communications?
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4 answers
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"Pillars of Baikonur" What is the purpose of the hundreds of short, white posts near the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad?

The caption given in the third image included in the Space.com page Expedition 56: The Space Station Mission in Photos reads as follows: At the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad, remote-controlled ...
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36 votes
3 answers
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Why were the SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts backed up by guards with automatic weapons?

The photo in NPR's 4 Astronauts Aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon Successfully Dock With Space Station shows the four astronauts standing in front of a serious-looking military vehicle flanked by at least two ...
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33 votes
3 answers
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Why are Japan's launch facilities so far north?

Japan currently has two space launch facilities: Uchinoura Space Center (31°15′07″N 131°04′55″E) and Tanegashima Space Center (30°24′00″N 130°58′12″E). Both of these are at the south end of the main ...
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27 votes
2 answers
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Why was InSight planned to launch from Vandenberg?

Why does the InSight Mars lander mission intend to launch from Vandenberg, which does not allow for prograde launches? Will it launch into polar or retrograde orbit? Why? It will do an interplanetary ...
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26 votes
4 answers
10k views

Advantages of launching very large rocket while submerged, buoyant, in a body of water

I vaguely remember reading about some supposed advantages of launching very large rockets (Saturn size and larger) from underwater in an ocean or similar large body of water. I was recently reminded ...
25 votes
4 answers
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Which has been the most gregarious rocket, launched from the most sites?

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 ...
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24 votes
1 answer
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Why is this part of the Space Shuttle launch pad suspended so high off the ground?

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-107/images/high/KSC-02PD-1894.jpg shows a large part of the launch pad suspended off the ground. What is it for and why is there all that empty space ...
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23 votes
3 answers
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Why isn't SpaceX constructing the Super Heavy launch mount on top of the water?

With SpaceX creating their launch facility in Boca Chica Texas, right next to the water, why would they bother building a huge launch pad to withstand the blast, as opposed to building it on top of ...
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22 votes
1 answer
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Why did NASA collect so much data about electrical phenomena at the Apollo 13 launch site?

Apollo 13 was launched at Kennedy Space Center on April 11, 1970. The mission report devotes a considerable amount -- over 7 pages -- to a set of electrical measurements at the launch site: The ...
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20 votes
2 answers
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Why won't SpaceX launch a rocket for a month?

The last launch of a Falcon 9 (Intelsat 35e) took place on July 5, but the next launch of a falcon 9 (CRS-12) won't take place until August 10. Elon said that SpaceX still had 12 launches to go this ...
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19 votes
3 answers
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Are Armageddon's simultaneous shuttle launches feasible?

In Armageddon, two space shuttles launch from adjacent pads mere seconds after one another. This seems highly implausible for several reasons: Pressure, heat, vibration and debris from the first ...
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18 votes
6 answers
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How close can I get to a rocket launch and not get killed?

There was a question regarding the closest distance regular people are allowed to be near a rocket. At that distance (Baikonur I, 1.1 miles, 1.8 km), even if a rocket explodes, there is a small chance ...
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why multiple lightning towers at launch sites?

Here is a picture of LC-40 at the Cape. The four tall towers are basically lightning rods. Why are four required? Wouldn't one be sufficient?
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17 votes
4 answers
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Are there any known reasons why there are no spaceports in the European Union?

As far as I know, there are no spaceports in the European Union. Why is it so?
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17 votes
5 answers
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How are multiple launches handled?

A spacecraft may launch with multiple payload, as is evidenced by How does a single rocket place multiple satellites into orbit? This question however is not about multiple payload carried in a ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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How was the Buran launch stack assembled?

There is plenty of information about how the U.S. Space Shuttle was assembled for launch. How was the Soviet Buran shuttle assembled? Was it done at the pad, or in a separate building? In what order ...
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17 votes
3 answers
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Why do KSC crawler-transporters use caterpillar treads instead of rail tracks?

The two Kennedy Space Center crawler-transporters, used to transport Saturn V, Shuttle and SLS rockets to the launchpad, move on caterpillar treads: Here's a SpaceFlight Insider video clip about ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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NASA Launch Control: was all of its capacity ever used?

The NASA Launch Control Center at Cape Canaveral has 4 Firing Rooms. Each can support the launch of a spacecraft. Similarly, the VAB was divided into four bays, each large enough to support assembly ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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What damage/repairs have to be done to the launch pad every time SpaceX launches?

As SpaceX is a company that is very focused on rapid reusability, low-cost operation and a philosophy of "the best part is no part", what repairs have to be done to the towers and general ...
16 votes
1 answer
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How does an array of concrete pillars protect a launch control bunker?

This answer explains that this regular grid of concrete posts at Baikonur LC-1 Gagarin's Start is designed to reduce damage to the launch control bunker beneath it in the event of a catastrophic ...
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16 votes
1 answer
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What should I consider in choosing what launch to see live?

I've never been to see a rocket launch. I'd like a checklist of what to consider in choosing where to go, what type of launch to pick, and what to allow for in terms of missed launch dates or other ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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What is involved in clearing air space for an orbital launch?

When the Nov 25th, 2013 SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 launch was scrubbed on a Monday, next launch opportunity was reported as Thursday (Thanksgiving) since the Tues/Wed days are the busiest day in the year ...
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15 votes
1 answer
966 views

How often are space launches substantially delayed by protests physically at the launch site?

Update: Following a one month loss of launch capability, from Spaceflight Now, April 25, 2017; Operations resume at European-run launch base in French Guiana: Protest leaders demanded more 3 billion ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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What is Range maintenance?

As discussed in this question, there will be no launches from Cape Canaveral for several weeks during the summer of 2017 because Eastern Range is closed for maintenance. I assume it includes some work ...
14 votes
2 answers
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How much water is used at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC)?

I recall seeing LOTS of water usage on a tour of Kennedy Space Center as a kid: during launches, etc. I'm looking only for a magnitude of order, so I would be satisfied with "hella" or "not much more ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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What happened to boiled-off gases from the storage tanks at Launch Complex 39?

Both Apollo and the Shuttle launched from KSC complex 39, and used liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants. These cryogenic liquids were held in storage tanks near the perimeter of each ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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What is the alternate hangar SpaceX has available at the Cape?

In the web cast for the Falcon 9 Flight 8 launch campaign they showed an alternate hangar where spacecraft can be prepared and fueled, before being brought to the SpaceX hangar on LC-40 for ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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What orbital inclinations will be launched into from Scotland?

It has recently been announced that the A'Mhoine peninsula in Sutherland, Scotland will be host to the United Kingdom's first vertical launch site (assuming they can get anything done with just £30m ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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What orbital launch-site can I lawfully visit?

All the orbital launch-sites I know of are to some degree also military bases, like Cape Canaveral and Plesetsk, and they have in any case restricted access. However, which of them can I visit, ...
13 votes
4 answers
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What decides if a launch has to be done instantaneously or during a window?

What determines if a launch has to be done instantaneously or has a launch window of minutes or hours? To what parts is it about celestial and ground issues? Just one example of alleged switching ...
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13 votes
4 answers
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Are there any benefits to launching from Vandenberg AFB instead of Cape Canaveral?

Launching from Cape Canaveral has many benefits, including launching over the ocean (in case something needs to be dropped off) and saving energy by being at a lower latitude than most of the United ...
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13 votes
2 answers
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Why were two different California airbases (Vandenberg and Edwards) intended for Shuttle launches versus landings?

Vandenberg Air Force Base was intended to be the west-coast launch site of the Space Shuttle. Its Space Launch Complex 6 was only a few months from being ready for the first launch, when the ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Do strongbacks/launch towers have to be repainted or refurbished after a launch?

Videos of rocket launches often show exhaust flames engulfing at least the upper parts of a launch tower or strongback. Do these towers need to be reconstructed or at least repainted after a launch? ...
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

What are the rectangular wires around Atlas V launch site?

You can see those wires spanning between four towers directly around the rocket in the following screenshot (taken from this video). I assume they are some kind of antenna or for some kind of ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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What dangers are on a launch pad after a successful launch?

I was looking at some pictures of launches (like this one) and started looking at the stairwells, doors, and other places people are intended to go. It got me wondering what kind of dangers exist on a ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Is Cape Canaveral the ideal launch location in the US?

Is there any reason why we can't launch from other primary locations other than Cape Canaveral? I know we have begun launching some rockets from Virginia, but is the Space Coast really the ideal ...
12 votes
3 answers
5k views

Are all rocket launch sites surrounded by water bodies?

Are all rocket launch sites surrounded by water bodies (such as sea)? If so, what is the purpose of having a rocket launch site near a water body?
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12 votes
2 answers
960 views

Are the Russians planning to replace the Baikonur Cosmodrome?

For decades, the Baikonur Cosmodrome was the premier Soviet space launch site. Many historic launches took place there, and it earned its place in the history books. But then the Soviet Union fell ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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Do any of the developing space programs use horizontal launcher assembly and launchpad loading?

Do any of the developing space programs (i.e. not NASA, ESA or Roscosmos) use horizontal launcher assembly in the launcher integration building and launchpad loading like the Soyuz at the Baikonur ...
12 votes
1 answer
564 views

With SpaceX running multiple launch sites, how are their launch teams structured?

SpaceX has several launch sites (and landing sites!) In Florida they started at LC-40, and are working to activate LC-39A for launches, and LC-13 has been re-labelled LZ-1 for landings. In ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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Why aren't sea launches used more often?

I was reading yet another awesome Tildal answer, and this picture caught my eye:        Zenit-3SL carrying Atlantic Bird 7 lifts off from Odyssey platform (Source: The ...
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11 votes
2 answers
757 views

How does a water based acoustic suppression system work?

Now a days every rocket launch (except Russian or cliff hanging launch) happens using water acoustic suppression system. How does the water based acoustic suppression works? What is the water ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of assembling a launch vehicle horizontally?

While reading up on the Soyuz rocket, I noticed this: Soyuz rockets are assembled horizontally in the MIK Building at the launch site. The rocket is then rolled out, and erected on the launch pad. ...
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11 votes
1 answer
415 views

What is the utility of this peanut-shaped ground facility?

The following image is from GSLV-F11 GSAT-7A Mission: Location: Second Launch Pad (SLP), Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, India. Please click here in case you want to see the image in ISRO's ...
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11 votes
1 answer
763 views

How long to repair the pad/tower after the SpaceX disaster?

Following the SpaceX disaster there is some obvious damage to the pad/tower. How long will it take to repair damage like that, and what kind of process/inspection is required before launches are ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Which launch was the first to use a dogleg maneuver?

Jake Blocker's excellent answer to How does one dogleg from Florida to a sun-synchronous orbit? explains what a dogleg maneuver is, what it's for, what it looks like, and even what a real dog's leg ...
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10 votes
6 answers
3k views

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

ICBMs are commonly launched from below ground. How much fuel could be saved if a missile is launched below ground instead of above? If the tube was deeper with modified launch by a separate chemical ...
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10 votes
5 answers
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Why does launching east result in an orbital inclination equal to the latitude of the launch site?

As mentioned briefly in this answer and this Everyday Astronaut video: And just as a reference, if you launched straight east out of Kennedy Space Center, you'd be on a 28.6° inclination which you ...
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