Monday, October 25, 2010
Before the Future Began
On the road to Bumper ... The intersection of Bumper Road and Central Control Road.
On September 9 I wrote about the free Cape Canaveral Air Force Station history tour provided by Patrick Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum.
That led me to volunteer as a docent for the museum, which among other things grants me access to unrestricted areas of CCAFS.
Today I sought out Launch Complex 3 (LC-3), where on July 24, 1950 the first rocket was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral.
That rocket was designated Bumper 8. The Bumper program was a descendent of Germany's World War II V-2. After Dr. Wehrner Von Braun and his scientists surrendered to the U.S. Army, they were sent to White Sands, New Mexico where they conducted a series of launch tests. The Bumper was a V-2 rocket with a WAC Corporal payload attached to the top. Only one of the six White Sands launches, Bumper 5, was deemed successful.
The Bumper program moved to Cape Canaveral for several reasons, the main one being that rockets could be launched over the ocean where if they failed they wouldn't land on anyone. Two remaining rockets, Bumpers 7 and 8, were shipped to the Cape. Bumper 7 misfired, so Bumper 8 was the first to successfully launch. Bumper 7 flew five days later.
I knew from the bus tour that remnants of LC-3 survived, so I went to the site today to shoot photos and see what I could find.
LC-3 in 1950 with a Bumper rocket on the ring pad.
Not much remains, and what does is not maintained. Below are photos of what I found.
For more information on Bumper, I recommend this page on Spaceline.org.
I believe this is where the ring pad was located.
A view to the southeast with Launch Complex 46 in the distance.
This abandoned structure across the road was labelled the Operations Control Building.
Looking towards the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse to the southwest.
Contrast this 1950 photo with the one above it. The Lighthouse can be seen in roughly the same location. Based on the road spur to the upper right, I suspect that "Y" might be where the Bumper Road / Central Control Road sign is located today.