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Orbital Launch Site
Category of launch sites.


Alcantara Alcantara Space Center. Sounding rocket and the launch complex for Brazil's indigenous VLS orbital booster was located here.

Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur.

Barents Sea Launch Area Submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area.

Barking Sands Military missile test and sounding rocket launch site. In use from 1962 to present. Sandia National Laboratories operates the Kauai Test Facility for the Department of Energy and, through inter-Service Support Agreements provides the Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Facility with rocket launch services for target systems and upper atmosphere measurements. PMRF/KTF is recognized in the INF Treaty as an authorized site from which launches of the STARS missile can be conducted. The site was recently involved in anti-ballistic missile tests.

Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Dombarovskiy Headquarters of an RVSN Division, 1964-present. ICBM base. Operated 64 heavy ICBM silos (R-36/R-36M). Two silos were modified to launch surplus R-36M missiles as orbital launch vehicles.

Gando Launch site on Canary Islands, near NASA tracking station, considered for several planned Spanish and Italian orbital launch vehicles. L-1011 carrier aircraft staging from Gran Canaria runways RW03/21L and RW03/21R air-launch Pegasus launch vehicles into orbit near here (drop point 27.00 N 15.30 W).

Gitdaeryung North Korean intermediate missile base, south east of Wonson, said to be capable of launching Scud-C's, SCUD-X's and Nodong-A ballistic missiles.

Goheung South Korean space center, built on Woenaro Island, off the Goheung peninsula, at the southern end of the Korean peninsula. The space center would be built in four phases through 2015 on a 4.95 million square meter landfill on the shore of the island.

Hammaguira The constellation of launch complexes and nuclear weapons test sites established by France in Algeria began with the Special Weapons Test Center (CIEES). This began operations at Colomb-Bechar, Algeria, on April 24, 1947. Development of the larger Veronique series required a new facility. This went into operation at Hammaguir, 120 km southwest of Colomb-Bechar, in May 1952. The evacuation of these launch sites was a condition of the final agreement signed in March 1962 that ended the Algerian Civil War. The sites continued in use until finally turned over to the Algerian government on 1 July 1967. French missile test activities moved to Biscarosse, in France, and orbital launches to Kourou, in French Guiana.

ISS deployed Satellites deployed from the ISS are given a COSPAR number linked to the original ISS Alpha module launch, regardless of the cargo ship that delivered the satellite to the ISS.

Jiuquan China's first launch center, also known as Shuang Cheng Tzu. Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, situated at 100 degrees East, 41 degrees North, is located in the Jiuquan Region, Gansu province, north-western China. It was China's first ballistic missile and satellite launch center.

Kagoshima Japanese launch center for solid fueled sounding rockets and satellite launchers. Limited to two months a year due to disturbance of local fisheries.

Kapustin Yar Russia's first missile test range and used for satellite launches of smaller Kosmos vehicles. V-2's launched from here in 1946 were the first ballistic missiles fired on Soviet territory. It was greatly expanded as the test site for innumerable Soviet intermediate and short range missile projects in the 1950's. Kapustin Year was also headquarters of the first operational R-1/R-2 units, 1950-1953, and later a base for 12 operational R-14 missile launchers.

Kiritimati Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Pacific Ocean was originally selected by Von Braun in his Collier magazine series of the early 1950's as an ideal equatorial launch site. A half century later, Boeing Sea Launch used an offshore location for orbital launches. The launch platform was a seagoing converted Norwegian offshore oil rig. Between missions it was berthed in Long Beach, California. It was towed to a location off Kiritimati for launches of the Ukrainian Zenit-3 launch vehicle.

Kodiak In January 1998, the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation began building a commercial spaceport at Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island, about 400 km south of Anchorage and 40 km southwest of the City of Kodiak. Kodiak Island was advertised as one of the best locations in the world for polar launch operations, providing a wide launch azimuth and unobstructed downrange flight path.

Kourou After the agreement with newly independent Algeria for France to evacuate their launch sites in that country, a location near Biscarosse was selected for French missile testing. However since only launches westwards across the Bay of Biscay could be made from this site, it was unsuitable for France's Diamant orbital launch vehicle. After reviewing 14 potential sites, a location in the South American French colony of Guiana was selected. This would allow over-water launches to a tremendous range of possible orbital inclinations -- from -100.5 deg to 1.5 deg. Being near the equator, it would provide the maximum assist from the earth's rotation for launches into equatorial orbits. The decision was formalized in April 1964 and in July 1966 ELDO chose the site for future launches of the Europa II launch vehicle.

Kwajalein The US military base located on this Pacific island group has major tracking facilities and is near the impact area for dummy warheads fired by ICBM's from Vandenberg AFB. It is a key test location for anti-ballistic missile systems.

Mahia New Zealand orbital launch site for Electron private launch vehicle.

Matagorda Island Launch site for sounding rockets and commercial launch vehicles. Good site for southerly launches into a variety of orbits but no tracking facilities.

North Truro Nike-Hydac launch site located at North Truro Air Force Station on Cape Cod, used 1969-1970.

Palmachim Israeli Air Force Test Range. Israeli coastal missile test site from which the Shavit satellite launch vehicle is also launched. A due-west launch over the Mediterranean is required to avoid overflying Arab countries, resulting in unique orbital inclinations and directions.

Plesetsk Plesetsk was the Soviet Union's northern cosmodrome, used for polar orbit launches of mainly military satellites, and was at one time the busiest launch center in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union put the main launch site of Baikonur in Kazakh territory. It now seems that once the Proton rocket is retired, Baikonur will be abandoned and Plesetsk will be Russia's primary launch center. Upgrades to existing launch facilities will allow advanced versions of the Soyuz rocket and the new Angara launch vehicle to be launched from Plesetsk. Plesetsk's major drawback was the lower net payload in geosynchronous orbit from a northern latitude launch site. However Russia is planning to remove the disadvantage by looping geosynchronous satellites around the moon, using lunar gravity to make the necessary orbital plane change.

Point Arguello Naval Missile Facility. The US Navy had established a Naval Air Facility at Point Mugu for cruise missile test in November 1945. After the Air Force had acquired the northern part of Camp Cooke from the Army for use as Vandenberg AFB, the surplus southern portion of the former camp, encompassing over 19,800 acres, was transferred to the U.S. Navy in May 1958. The Navy subsequently established a Pacific Missile Range with headquarters at Point Mugu and instrumentation sites along the California coast and at various islands in the Pacific.

San Marco San Marco Launch Complex. In 1962 NASA signed an agreement with the Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali at the University of Rome creating the San Marco program. The purpose of the program was to place an Italian satellite in orbit and to create an Italian equatorial launch site for the Scout rocket. Permission was obtained from Kenya to emplace two modified oil platforms off their coast, on the equator. The Santa Rita platform would serve as a launch control center and would also be used for launch of sounding rockets. The San Marco platform would be dedicated to launch of Scout rockets to orbit.

Santa Barbara Channel DZ Air-launched rocket drop zone known to have been used for 6 launches in 1958, reaching up to 12 kilometers altitude.

Sea Launch Area Category of launch sites.

Semnan Launch site for Iran's Safir space launch vehicle.

Sohae Alternate name for [Tongchang-ri].

Sriharikota India's primary space launch center, located on the east coast of the peninsula with a firing sector over the Bay of Bengal. In use from 1971 to present.

Svobodniy Headquarters of an RVSN Division, 1961-1994, equipped with 90 light ICBM (UR-100) silos. The number of operational silos declined to 60 by 1993. The break-up of the Soviet Union left the main Russian cosmodrome on foreign territory (Baikonur, in Kazakhstan). The Northern Cosmodrome at Plesetsk did not have facilities for large launch vehicles and was not suited for support of launches into lower-inclination orbits. Therefore Svobodniy Cosmodrome, located 7,777 km east of Moscow, was established as the Second State Space Trials Launch Centre (GIK-2) on 2 February 1996.

Taiyuan Taiyuan Space Center. China's launch site for launch of polar orbiting satellites, also known as Wuzhai. Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) is situated in Kelan County, the northwest part of Shanxi Province, 280 km by road from Taiyuan City.

Taiyuan LC9 Null

Tanegashima Tanegashima Space Center. Japan's main launch site for he larger N and H launch vehicles. In use for sounding rockets from 1967 and orbital launches from 1975.

Tongchang-ri North Korean space launch site, on the west coast, designed for launch direct south into a polar orbit or test of intermediate or intercontinental range missiles into trajectories that do not fly over Japan.

Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll.

Vostochniy Vostochniy, Russia's new cosmodrome, was to be constructed at the missile base of Uglegorsk, population 5135, not far from the Svobodniy Cosmodrome. The site would include a modern residential town to accommodate the tens of thousands of workers at the cosmodrome. The space center would be designed to handle the Angara rocket family.

Wallops Island Wallops Flight Facility. Small NASA launch site for sounding rocket launches and occasional Scout launches to orbit. Air launches are conducted from the Drop Zone Wallops Island, 37.00 N 72.0 W. With the last orbital launch in 1985 and the decline in sounding rocket launches, Wallops fell into near-disuse as a launch center. Its fortunes revised with the establishment of Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2005 and orbital launches resumed in 2010.

Wenchang Chinese launch center for orbital launches. Designed to accommodate the modular family of Chinese next generation launch vehicles. First launches from complexes 101 and 201 for the CZ-5 and CZ-7 launch vehicles were in 2016. The site, on the eastern shore of Hainan Island, eliminates the drawbacks of earlier Chinese launhch sites located inland. The southerly location reduces the plane change required to reach synchronous orbits, thereby maximizing payload. The launch range over the Pacific eliminates azimuth restrictions and the risk of booster stages or debris falling in populated areas. The location allows delivery of launch vehicle stages by sea, removing the restriction on size limiting inland sites to rail transport.

Woomera Woomera Instrumented Range. After World War II British government recognized the need for a large range to test the incredible array of long-range missile systems then planned. After considering sites in Canada, it was decided that Australia would best meet the projected needs. The Long Range Weapons Establishment was created on 1 April 1947 as a joint British/Australian enterprise. 23 days later the name Woomera (an aboriginal word of atlatl, or spear thrower) was selected for the new town to be built as its administrative center. Woomera town peaked at a population of 6,000 in the 1960's. Thereafter the progressive cancellation of British missile and space projects put Woomera went into sustained decline. However it played a key role in the history of rocketry, including orbital launches or launch attempts by Black Arrow, Sparta, and Europa boosters.

Xichang Xichang Space Center . China's launch site for geosynchronous orbit launches. Xichang Satellite Launch Centre is situated in Xichang, Sichuan Province, south-western China. The launch pad is at 102.0 degrees East and 28.2 degrees North. The head office of the launch center is located in Xichang City, about 65 kilometers away. Xichang Airport is 50 km away. A dedicated railway and highway lead directly to the launch site.

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