- Keweenaw (Rocket launch site)
The Keweenaw rocket launch site was an isolated launch pad located in
U.S. stateof Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. It was used between 1964 and 1971 for launching rockets for meteorological data collection. NASAalong with the University of Michigan conducted the project under the lead of Dr. Harold Allen. The site was one of six other similar ones scattered about North Americathat were to collect measurements of: electron density, positive ion composition and distribution, energetic electron precipitation, solar X-rays, and Lyman alpha flux.
One of the other well known sites was
Wallops Island, Virginia. The collected data was later to be compared to the five other sites.
In the early stages of the project, Smaller rockets were launched off a floating buoy between the on-land rocket site and Manitou Island, about 2.5 miles off shore. These smaller rockets were commonly known as
Mighty Mouse rockets for they were only a few feet tall and had folding fins. There were approximately 50 of these rockets launched from the floating buoy.
There were two types of larger rockets launched from the site, Arcas at about six feet and the much larger
Nike Apacherockets. Both of these rockets were two stage rockets that could carry a substantial payload. The Nike Apache rockets weighed about 1,700 lbs, were over 28 feet tall and reached an altitude of almost 100 miles.
The site is still accessible to visitors. Little remains there other than a concrete pad with an iron rail attached to it but the view of Lake Superior and Manitou Island is spectacular from the site. The coordinates of the site are coord|47|25|48|N|87|43|1|W|. To get to the site drive north on US 41 up to Copper Harbor. In Copper Harbor, turn right at the blinking traffic signal and proceed about 5 miles to the end of US 41. There is a seasonal road (not plowed in winter seasons) that begins here. Take this road about 4.5 miles, and turn left onto an ATV trail. This trail is impossible to pass by car and is best done by foot, mountain bike, or ATV. Down the trail there is a fork to the left. Take this, and shortly after you will find the site.
The project was originally proposed by the University of Michigan’s Institute of Science and Technology. The rocket launchings were to be part of the
Meteorological Rocket Networkand the main goal of the project was to gather inland weather data. Three University of Michigan professors along with two Michigan Technological Universityprofessors and two employees from the White Sands missile range were the minimum crew for the missile range.
* [http://www.gt.org/keweenaw-rocket-base/ The Keweenaw Rocket Range 1962-1971]
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