Cape Canaveral

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Space transport

Cape Canaveral from space, August 1991
Cape Canaveral from space, August 1991

Cape Canaveral is a strip of land in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the centre of that state's Atlantic coast at 28°33′21″N, 80°36′17″W. It is part of a region known as the Space Coast, and is the site of the Kennedy Space Centre, and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Many United States spacecraft are launched from either one of these sites; as a result, the term "Cape Canaveral" or "Canaveral" is used to refer to either location. It sits due east of Merritt Island, separated from it by the Banana River.

Other features of the cape include Cape Canaveral lighthouse and Port Canaveral. The city of Cape Canaveral is a few miles south of the cape.

The first rocket launch from the Cape was Bumper 8 from Launch Pad 3 on 24 July 1950. On February 6, 1959 the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile was accomplished here. All manned U.S. government ( NASA) spaceflights have launched from Cape Canaveral.

Cape Canaveral was chosen for rocket launches to take advantage of the earth's rotation. The centrifugal force of this rotation is greatest at the equator, and to take advantage of it, rockets are launched eastward, in the same direction of the earth's rotation. It is also highly desirable to have the downrange area sparsely populated, in case of accidents; an ocean is ideal for this. Although the United States has sites closer to the equator with expanses of ocean to the east of them (e.g. Hawaii, Puerto Rico), the east coast of Florida has substantial logistical advantages over these island locations.

Name changes

From 1963 to 1973 it was called Cape Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy was an enthusiastic backer of the space program, and after his assassination in 1963, his widow Jacqueline Kennedy suggested to President Lyndon Johnson that renaming the Cape Canaveral facility would be an appropriate memorial. However, Johnson recommended the renaming not just of the facility, but of the entire cape. Accordingly, Cape Canaveral was renamed Cape Kennedy.

Although the name change was approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names of the Interior Department in 1964, it was not popular in Florida, especially in the city of Cape Canaveral, Florida. In 1973 the state passed a law restoring the former 400-year-old name, and the Board went along. The Kennedy family issued a letter stating they "understood the decision"; Jacqueline Kennedy also stated if she had known that the Canaveral name had existed for 400 years, she never would have supported changing the name of the Cape. The Space Centre itself retains the "Kennedy" name.

Some outsiders still refer to the geographical feature as "Cape Kennedy", though it's typically used in the context of its continuing status as America's Spaceport.

Name origin

The name "Canaveral" (Cañaveral in Spanish) was given to the area by Spanish explorers, and it literally means " canebrake". It can be interpreted as "Cape of Canes".


In The Simpsons episode " Deep Space Homer", a fictitious sign shows its pre-Canaveral name as Cape Arbuckle.

The "Cape Kennedy" name shows up in some 1960s TV shows, at least in episodes of "Flipper" and " I Dream of Jeannie".

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