America’s rocket launch program began at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the 1950s. Supercluster was granted the opportunity to visit these first launch sites and explore the 60+ years of rich history that occurred on Florida's space coast.
We joined the 45th Space Wing for a tour of historic landmarks that included Launch Complexes 1-6, 14, 19 and 34. These sites bravely hosted the first rockets ever launched from the Cape, flights that launched both Alan Shepard and John Glenn on their legendary trips to space.
We also stopped in at the oddly shaped “beehive” blockhouse at Launch Complex 31.
LAUNCH COMPLEX 26
Launch Complex 26 Blockhouse
Instrumentation Panels from the Launch Blockhouse used to launch rockets from LC-26, a dual-pad, single blockhouse facility.
There are two firing rooms located inside, one used in support of each pad. The firing rooms are still furnished with much of their original equipment, in some places even the lighting fixtures, paint scheme, and wiring paths remain.
LAUNCH COMPLEX 5
A full-sized replica of the Mercury Redstone vehicle stands on Pad 5, the site of the United States' first crewed missions.
(Left) View from the Blockhouse overlooking the launch pad and rocket. The windows' three panes are each comprised of 15 layers of one-quarter inch glass. That's a total of 45 layers of glass per window, measuring about one-foot thick. In the early days of experimental rocketry, you can never have too much protection.
(Right) LC-5 Blockhouse Blast Door where Redstone, Jupiter, and Juno missiles were launched.
LAUNCH COMPLEX 14
Parking Lot in front of LC-14 was used for various manned and unmanned Atlas launches, including the Friendship 7 flight aboard which John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.
(Left) LC-14 Blast door in the Blockhouse. (Right) Periscope used to view the Launch pad and area around LC-14 from the Blockhouse.
LC-14 Pad where rockets launched
Launch Complex 14 Freedom 7 Monument Plaque
LAUNCH COMPLEX 19
Launch Complex 19 (LC-19) was previously used by NASA to launch all of the crewed Gemini flights and the Titan I and Titan II missiles.
LC-19 was utilized between 1959 to 1966, during which time it saw 27 launches, 10 of which flew humans. The first flight from LC-19 was on August 14, 1959 and ended in a pad explosion that extensively damaged the facility and required months of repair work.
The first successful launch from LC-19, a Titan I, flew on February 2, 1960. After being converted for the Titan II ICBM program in 1962, LC-19 was later designated for the Gemini flights. After the program concluded in December 1966, LC-19 was decommissioned.
LAUNCH COMPLEX 34
(Left) LC-34 looking toward the currently-active LC-37b where United Launch Alliance launches Delta 4 missions. (Right) Flame deflectors for LC-34.
Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 was the site of the Apollo 1 fire, which claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967.
“Beehive” Blockhouse at Launch Complex 31. These blockhouses were built in a distinctive beehive shape, made by stacked concrete sandbags.