The History of Cape Canaveral: The Space Race

Space Race Cape Canaveral
Mar 28 2016

The History of Cape Canaveral: The Space Race

As Cape Canaveral entered the first third of the 20th century, it was obvious how this once only-get-there-by-boat collection of communities (Canaveral Harbor, Artesia, De Soto Beach, and Journalista Beach) were becoming more advanced than the finishing communities that they used to be. The Evening Star Reporter was founded, and the area started to realize that it was more than just waterways.

Congress approved the construction on of a deepwater port in 1929, but it didn’t get started until decades later. This became an important project when the Joint Long Range Proving Ground legislation was passed by Congress in 1949. Port Canaveral was dedicated on November 4, 1953.  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launched its first rocket, a V2 named Bumper 8.

Further rocket launches were also successful (including the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile). Soon, NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects also launched from Cape Canaveral.

Why Cape Canaveral?  The Earth’s rotation determines that the linear velocity is greatest near the equator. The southern location of the cape allows rockets to take advantage of this by launching in the same direction as the rotation (eastward). Furthermore, due to its location, the ocean is an ideal place for possible rocket launch accidents. The launch complex (46) is at the eastern-most tip of the cape for this very reason.

For a time, Cape Canaveral became Cape Kennedy, renamed for the President after his assassination. The name was restored in 1973, after residents petitioned to have it restored to the 400-year name that contained its history, Cape Canaveral.

Sharing Great Florida Coast stories from the Cape Winds Resort in Cape Canaveral,

Steve Wright

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