Saturday, March 28, 2009

Space launch sites

Space launch sites:
There are not many spaceports around the world. Fewer than two dozen have been constructed during the Space Age. Over the decades since 1957, some 5,000 satellites have been boosted above the atmosphere from these sites. The space programs of the United States and Russia have been comparable in size and are by far the world's largest. They are followed in size by the space programs of the ESA, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Belgium and Spain.

The Baikonur space launch site, also known as Tyuratam ( A city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan rented and administered by Russia ), is the world's oldest and largest working space launch facility. The first man made satellite to orbit the Earth was launched from here. For decades, the facility was shrouded in secrecy with the Soviet authorities refusing to confirm its precise location.The site has a diameter of 90 km:

There are a number of big launch pads on this huge complex. Here is the biggest launch pad on the site. Another big one is found here. A huge movable service tower equipped with cargo and passenger elevators and a crane here, allowes access to the rocket in vertical position on the launch pad:

With so many years of launching missles and satellites into space the surrounding steppes are littered with spent boosters, many with toxic propellants still on board - although clean-up plans are underway. The second biggest space launch site is the The John F. Kennedy Space Center from NASA on Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida, United States. It is 34 mi long and around 6 mi wide, covering 219 sqmi. The huge vehicle assembly building is the most well known landmark on the huge site. The 160m tall building is the largest one story building in the world and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area:

The site has two very big launch pads and a lot of smaller launchpads. The biggest launch pad is found here ( Launch pad 39B):

And here launch pad 39 is situated. This 105 meters high structure can be seen from miles away:

There are more of these space launch sites but none of them are comparable in size with the 2 mentioned above.

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