NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center has helped set the stage for America’s adventure into space for five decades. The spaceport has served as the departure gate for every American manned mission and hundreds of advanced scientific spacecraft. From the early days of Project Mercury to the Space Shuttle Program and International Space Station, from the Hubble Space Telescope to the Mars rovers, the centre enjoys a rich heritage in its vital role as NASA’s processing and launch centre.
Just over fifty years ago launch pads and towers began to rise, one by one. By 1960 the Missile Firing Laboratory had become an extension of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. On the 1st of July, 1962 NASA officially activated the Launch Operations Center and the following year the Center was renamed to honour the president who put America on the path to the moon.
NASA chose the East Coast of Florida as its launching port for all human spaceflight missions for several reasons. One reason was its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which provided a safe range for launching rockets without the potential for debris to fall onto populated areas. The second reason was that this area was relatively unpopulated at the time of NASA’s inception, consisting mostly of orchards, empty beaches and two military bases, which provided logistical support to space operations. The third reason is because of Earth’s rotation on its axis and how close to the equator Florida is. As the planet spins, the speed of rotation is greatest at the equator and lessens as you move further north or south. As a result, spacecraft launches from Kennedy Space Center are given over 1,450 kilometres per hour worth of additional boost, saving fuel and increasing efficiency.
The Cape Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex East Central Florida allows visitors to experience the place where history is being made. Cape Kennedy is where mankind first stepped off the face of the earth to explore the heavens.
- Information provided at Cape Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex