104

Basically, the most prominent reason is so that if something happens during launch, it happens over the Atlantic and not someone else. Anything launching over the Gulf of Mexico will probably cross over land a couple of times before going over the Atlantic. As geoffc pointed out in the comments, the Atlantic is a lot wider than the Gulf. Once the rocket has ...


72

They are used to redirect lightning in the immediate area. This essentially creates a faraday cage, shielding the rocket from being fried by lightning. You can see how high the towers reach, high enough to ensure there is no risk of lightning hitting the craft. Update by @highonrope: The rectangle which the rocket launches through is huge...from the ground ...


60

Until 1949, the U.S. launched rockets from Wallops Island in Virginia and the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico. The Rockets launched from Wallops were of American origin while the rockets launched from White Sands were V-2s, supported by a hundred or so German rocket scientists who had been smuggled out of Germany (along with some V-2s) via ...


59

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


52

The area of the European Continent is too far away from the equator and there are very few places allowing an eastward orbital launch over an ocean. Used first stages should not crash on densely populated ground. But French Guiana, where the Guiana Space Centre is located, is one of five French overseas departments and a part of the European Union. Overseas ...


49

That is the Rotating Service Structure. It can be rotated to fit over the Shuttle while it is on the pad, giving access to the Shuttle cargo bay. The empty space allows the RSS to fit over the launch platform. It's not floating, the leg on the left side of the photo is part of the RSS. This is a detail of the leg: You can see the cab and wheels used to ...


44

I found this article on the site of the Russian news agency Vesti. Подземный бункер пуска - самое близкое к старту место. Над ним специальные бетонные столбики, так называемые волнорезы, чтобы ударная сила не повредила этот стратегический объект. The underground bunker is the closest place to start. Above it are special concrete columns, so-called ...


39

The Eastern Range run by the Air Force has a 2 or 3 week maintenance window. Thus no one is launching from either Cape Canaveral (Where LC-39A is located), nor the CCAFS (Cape Caneveral Air Force Station, where LC-40 is located) locations. SpaceX is using the time the range is down to modify the RSS (Rotating Support Structure) that is left over from ...


34

Pegasus, whose carrier plane has lifted off from Edwards AFB Cape Canaveral Wallops Flight Facility Base Aerea de Gando, Gran Canaria, Spain Vandenberg AFB Kwajalein Atoll on successful space launch missions.


31

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 ...


29

According to the article "Seven Ways Mars InSight is Different", the driver was launch site availability: InSight will ride on top of a powerful Atlas V 401 rocket, which allows for a planetary trajectory to Mars from either coast. Vandenberg was ultimately chosen because it had more availability during InSight’s launch period. InSight is a very ...


27

The American Petroleum Institute, in its standard 521, outlines limits for exposure of personnel to heat radiation from flares. As hydrocarbons and hydrogen are commonly flared, and also commonly used as rocket fuel, the data is relevant. This publication is used throughout the oil industry worldwide (and therefore is in far wider use than anything produced ...


25

Most of your concerns can be put to rest by this image: Image credit: NASA, Source: Wikipedia For the last time in the Shuttle program, Space Shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour are placed at LC39A and LC39B in preparation for the STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Space shuttle Atlantis on Launch Pad 39A (left) is accompanied ...


24

The big top rods are insulators. Such cages are grounded through wires sloping out to ground points several tens of meters away. Also the ground points are connected to each other by a potential equalization loop. The metal lattices of the towers are grounded too, and also connected to the loop - but they are insulated from the tips, so in a strike they do ...


24

Those pillars intended to decrease a damage if a launcher falls just on start. The only mention of this I found is in russian language blog post about a travel to Baikonur: Внизу, чуть в стороне, поле, утыканное бетонными столбиками, если ракета падает на старте, пусть лучше разломается на этих столбиках – разрушений при взрыве будет меньше. Below, ...


20

No, not surrounded by water at least. There are of course advantages to having a body of water nearby, for example in an event of a larger fire the fire fighting helicopters and airplanes would have a shorter flight between the fire and where they scoop the water from. But that doesn't necessitate the water body completely surrounding the launch site. In ...


20

This is essentially piston launch; in principle a deep enough hole could let you get the piston up to speeds approaching the speed of sound in the expanding gas driving the piston. Assuming you're limited to 6g by the strength of the rocket structure, and ordinary air for the driving medium, you need a piston a kilometer deep, and you accelerate to mach 1 (...


19

No, one wouldn't be sufficient unless it would be a really tall and massive (very conductive) structure stretching far above the launch vehicle (apparently higher than the Saturn V's launch tower), because lightnings can be rather unpredictable from which direction they will strike. It's a rather common misconception that the path a lightning will take will ...


19

For shuttle: The oxygen was dumped into a basin to boil off (red arrow) or released through the External Tank vent valve, through the "beanie cap", and out a pair of vent ducts that ran through the "beanie cap" access arm. The "beanie cap" and vent ducts. The hydrogen was burned off in flare stacks (green arrow). The connection from the External Tank was ...


18

Well, I must say a "hella". Only figures I can quote are for the sound suppression system: An elevated water tank near each pad provided sound buffering protection for the launching spacecraft. Part of the Sound Suppression Water System (SSWS), the 290-foot (88 m) water towers stored 300,000 gallons (1.1 Megalitres) of water, which was released just ...


16

1) Startup cost. Buying and converting a boat is much more complicated and time consuming than pouring some concrete and welding some steel. 2) Logistics. You will need at least 2 boats. One as the launcher and one as the command centre. You also need to have a reliable comms link to the rocket. You also need to house the personnel and maintain both boats. ...


16

Although it is quite difficult to give a definite and documented answer about Russian Space Program and Russian politics in general, I'm trying to express some considerations that could someway answer your question. Considerations against Baikonur's replacement: ISS access: With the end of the Space Shuttle Program, Baikonur is the only launch site which ...


16

There's no historical precedent for simultaneous launch, but some early space program rendezvous experiments had flights launched somewhat close together. Gemini 8, 10, 11, and 12 each launched within a couple of hours of an unmanned Agena spacecraft for a rendezvous exercise. They would launch from separate pads at Cape Canaveral, LC-14 for the Agenas ...


16

The citation you give is correct, albeit a bit misleading. If a rocket fails so soon after launch that it strikes any of the structure on and around the launch pad, the result is in any case a huge explosion resulting in the complete loss of the vehicle. You can get an impression on how it looks like by the crash tests done by SpaceX in the past years ...


15

Yes, there are methods to track and estimate what a payload is up to. Most methods rely on visual or radar to identify the orbit and its parameters. There are many amateurs that do this. Once an object has been located and its orbit calculated, you can then monitor changes in the orbit. Generally these things are public. Imaging the object is generally the ...


15

The size of the restricted area is defined in TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) and is announced by NOTAM (notice to airmen). An example of a NOTAM for a space shuttle launch (STS-115 Atlantis) is here - the size is 30-40 nautical miles. Some additional information can be found on NASA web as well. The reason for the size is safety of the aircraft (...


15

The United States launch sites are the most accessible, both in terms of location (near population centers and accessible) and political environment. Kennedy Space Center in particular is welcoming of visitors, and to a lesser extent Wallops, and you can get into Vandenburg occasionally if you ask nicely. As far as other countries, the major centers are ...


15

I believe we haven't found the whole story yet so I'll post as a partial answer for the moment. Looks like we may have found the answer! I'll leave this for anyone interested in some extra information or my rambling speculations. Soyuz MS-09 launched from Baikonur LC-1 Gagarin's Start which is shown below. I've highlighted the flame trench (green), ...


15

There are currently suborbital spaceports. Esrange in Sweden launches sounding rockets, including some up to 678 km. That's nearly 300 km higher than the International Space Station, so it is definitely possible to launch a payload into space from within the European part of the European Union. Esrange cannot yet launch into orbit, buth they plan to. ...


14

In the case of Falcon 9 / Orbcomm OG2 launch from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL that's now scheduled for Dec. 20th at 8:29 p.m. EST (01:29 a.m. UTC), according to Spaceflight Now: Sources said only an instantaneous launch opportunity is available Sunday due to restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which may be ...


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