Head in the stars: the history of the Kennedy Space Center, the NASA launch site often confused with Cape Canaveral

Head in the stars: the history of the Kennedy Space Center, the NASA launch site often confused with Cape Canaveral
Head in the stars: the history of the Kennedy Space Center, the NASA launch site often confused with Cape Canaveral

In this new episode of the videocast “Head in the Stars”, Luc Gilson and Pierre-Emmanuel Paulis, president of Mars Society Brussels and trainer at the Euro Space Center, discuss the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, a launch base from NASA.

The Kennedy Space Center, named for the president who launched the challenge to go to the moon, is located right next to Cape Canaveral, but “it’s not quite the same thing,” notes Pierre-Emmanuel Paulis. “The goal is to be as close as possible to the equator to benefit from the highest rotation speed of the Earth. So the best place for the United States is to be in Florida on the east coast , along the Atlantic Ocean and there was the perfect place: a green strip that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. A nature reserve called Merritt Island, on which there was a military base: Cap. Canaveral. Then one day, we decided to go to the Moon. The facilities at Cape Canaveral had become too small. NASA bought another piece of land, on the other side of the sea, to install them. necessary infrastructure.

If the two places are so close to each other, it is because they are ideally located for launching the space shuttles. Beyond the proximity to the equator, a large space free of any habitation is also required in the event of a problem during takeoff. “It’s important to finally be near uninhabited areas like the ocean. The pieces of a rocket that could fall, a rocket, a takeoff that wouldn’t work, it’s important to have an ocean. The Russians are in the desert, there is no city 800 kilometers around Baikonur”, explains the trainer at the Euro Space Center.

Other launch bases also exist in the United States, but for manned flights, launches will always take place at the Kennedy Space Center. “SpaceX is building a new launch pad,” observed Pierre-Emmanuel Paulis on site.

Finally, the president of the Mars Society Brussels, specifies that the large release of smoke which accompanies the takeoff of the vessels is not necessarily due to the burned fuel. “For Saturn V, for example, the flame was 500 meters long. For a space shuttle, 250 meters in length. The flame must not bounce off the ground and damage and burn the ship which is rising into the sky. So, you have to channel the flame in a given direction. But on top of that, you have to absorb the sound wave, the shock wave, the vibrations and the heat. And this will be done with a torrent of water that is poured onto the platform. The two enormous clouds of smoke that spread out on either side during takeoff are largely due to the boiling of the water on the launch platform. So it’s water vapor.”

Head in the stars Kennedy Space Center Cape Canaveral

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