Probably the greatest thing about geocaching is that it takes you places you would otherwise never know about or go to. Our September 2012 trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan took us to some wild and wooly territory. It’s not the kind of place where you would expect to find an abandoned NASA rocket launch facility, but there is one – and of course, somebody put a geocache there. We went to check it out.
In 1962 the University of Michigan proposed a launch site near the center of the North American continent. This would fill in a gap in the US Army’s Meteorological Rocket Network. Following a survey of available sites a location on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior was selected. The site was in use from 1964-1971.
The site was to be mainly used in the winter, in order not to endanger shipping on the lake. The first launches were made from a portable telescoping tower of ARCAS sounding rockets in August of 1964. In 1970-1971 NASA launched two Nike-Apache sounding rockets from the site and was preparing to launch surplus Redstone rockets (the same ones that launched the Mercury astronauts). The Canadian government protested these much larger rockets being fired so close to their border. The site was abandoned and never used again. It definitely qualifies as off the beaten path.
I started wondering about the who what when where of the site. When did they do this? Who was it? What did they launch? What happened to it? Nobody seemed to know much about the place, so I went looking. I found a bunch of stuff and learned a few things in the process, not all of them rocket related.
This is a photo post with background info in the captions. Most of the rocket talk came from the Encyclopedia Astronautica. Enjoy.
That’s it until next time. Hope you liked it and/or learned something. We sure did.