Questions tagged [launch-site]

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

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72
votes
7answers
15k 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?
56
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4answers
24k views

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?
53
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4answers
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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 ...
33
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3answers
11k views

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 ...
24
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4answers
6k 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 ...
24
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1answer
6k views

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 ...
24
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2answers
3k views

Why does InSight plan 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 ...
23
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4answers
6k views

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 ...
23
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1answer
2k views

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 ...
20
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2answers
6k views

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 ...
18
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3answers
5k views

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 ...
18
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2answers
2k 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?
17
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
16
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4answers
5k views

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?
16
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5answers
1k views

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 ...
16
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
16
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1answer
3k views

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 ...
16
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1answer
840 views

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 ...
15
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4answers
21k views

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), even if a rocket explodes, there is a small chance someone ...
15
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3answers
1k views

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 ...
15
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1answer
366 views

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
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2answers
3k views

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 ...
14
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
14
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1answer
697 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 ...
13
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3answers
2k views

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
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
13
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3answers
13k views

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 ...
13
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1answer
865 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 ...
13
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2answers
771 views

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 ...
12
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3answers
4k 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?
12
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2answers
864 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 ...
12
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1answer
818 views

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? ...
12
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1answer
627 views

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 ...
12
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1answer
620 views

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 ...
12
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1answer
496 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 ...
11
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4answers
8k views

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 ...
11
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4answers
3k views

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 ...
11
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2answers
453 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 ...
11
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2answers
785 views

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 ...
11
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1answer
704 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 ...
10
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3answers
1k views

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 ...
10
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2answers
965 views

Excluding Russia, has Europe launched a single satellite or spacecraft into Earth's orbit and beyond from its own continent?

I was going through the list of European rocket launch sites on Wikipedia, and I can't find a single reference for an orbited satellite launched from any of them. Honestly, I wasn't even aware of most ...
10
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1answer
4k views

How close can I get to a rocket launch?

At NASA Wallops the visitor center is 4 miles from the pad. Families of shuttle crews could watch from 3 miles away as their loved ones where hurled into orbit. At Biakonur I can apparently get to ...
10
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3answers
395 views

How could we make a fair comparison between space rockets regarding their payload mass in low Earth orbit and Earth escaping?

I was searching for comparisons between space rockets regarding their payload mass in low Earth orbit and Earth escaping. First one to see capability of the space booster (the first stages) and second ...
9
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6answers
2k 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 ...
9
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5answers
4k views

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 ...
9
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2answers
647 views

If China wanted to hush the purpose of a space launch, can it be inferred outside of China?

What I had in mind is that China's territory is rather large and they could place a launch site deep within its territory. Flow of information is tightly controlled as it is with the Great Firewall of ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Quite some lateral wobble immediately following Antares Orb-2 liftoff. Is that normal?

Orbital Sciences just launched (July 13, 2014 at 12:52 EST) their Orb-2 resupply mission to the International Space Station with Cygnus resupply vehicle onboard the Antares rocket (named SS Janice ...
9
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1answer
3k views

What's the white tall tower with a tank near Space Shuttle launch pad?

Here's neat image from Wikipedia: On the right there's a tall white tower with a rounded tank on top looking much like a water tower. There's another one right behind the first one opposing the other ...
9
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1answer
1k views

What are/were the rails leading into the flame trench of pad 39A used for?

In this Google Street View you can see what appear to be rails leading down into the flame trench under launch pad 39A. What was/is the purpose of those rails?