Today many countries in addition to the US and Russia,
the two Moon
race competitors, have vibrant space programs.
Europe, in fact, dominates commercial satellite launches
with its Ariane rockets launched from Kouru
in French Guiana.
China has a large and growing space program and is
only the third country in the world to have launched
humans into orbit.
Japan has steadily grown its space capabilities, beginning
with small sub-orbital rockets in the 1950s. India has
developed a robust program of launchers and is developing
lunar science missions.
Use the launch
schedules here to tim your visit for a launch at
a spaceport near you.
Check out also the Spaceport
Field Guide from SpaceWorks
Enterprises. This on-line interactive Guide includes
both government and commercial spaceports and provides
status and other information on each. Based on Google
Maps, you can zoom in on a spaceport location in both
map and satellite views.
However, there have been many sounding rockets launched
within Canada for scientific studies such as those to
examine the aurora borealis. In particular, the Churchill
Rocket Research range in Manitoba was active until
its closure a decade ago.
There has been an effort to reopen the Churchill range
as a commercial launch site but the status of the effort
couldn't be determined here.
An amateur groups have also investigated use of the
range to fly to fly high power rockets that, for example,
will attempt to break the altititude records for amateur
Russian, spaceports include the Baikonur Cosmodrome
in Kazakhstan (now an independent country), the Plesetsk
Cosmodrome north of Moscow, and Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome
north of the Caspian Sea.
is the site for manned launches and equatorial orbits.
The site is now rented from Kazakhstan. Plesetsk
is used for polar orbits. Kapustin
Yar was an early Soviet missile range and Cosmos
launches. There is also Yasny
Launch Base , which is used for the Dnepr Launch
These agencies offer tour packages of Russian spaceports
as well as "adventure" experiences such as
flying in a MiG fighter:
Adventures - US travel agency offers the opportunity
to experience Cosmonaut Training at the famous
Star City spaceflight center, to fly on a Russian
Mig and to experience weightlessness on a plane flying
parabolic trajectories that is used to train cosmonauts.
Adventures - Russian Space Tour - Space Adventures
offers a tour of Russian space facilities in Moscow
and Star City. Experience a spacecraft simulator and
other cosmonaut training procedures.
M. - this Russian travel agencies offers several
different tour packages related to space:
Individual European countries have had a number of
spaceports inside and outside of their borders. (See
the history of European
launch ranges at Rockets
in Europe) Britain, for example, had a very active
site at Woomera,
Australia until the early 1970's. (Britain also once
had a small test site for missiles of its southern coast:
Rocket Site )
With the creation in the early 1970's of the ESA, European
Space Agency, and the development of the Ariane
rockets, the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French
Guiana, became the primary launch facility for European
payloads to orbital and deep space missions (see the
Suborbital rockets are launched from several European
sites including Esrange
in Sweden and Andøya in Norway, which are also being investigated
for possible polar orbit launches.
Founded in 1962, ARR is the most northern spaceport
in the world (69° 12'N, 16° 01'E). They launch sounding
rockets and balloons over the arctic area for scientific
research in aurora, weather, astronomy, etc. There is
also a SpaceCamp
program. See a history
of Andøya at Rockets
Spitsbergen Island Andøya Rocket Range
and the Norwegian
Space Centre built a launch facility for scientific
rockets at Ny-Ålesund on the island of Spitsbergen,
in a project named Svalrak. The island is already used
by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Eiscat Svalbard
Radar will give Svalrak technical and scientific support.
the National Space Development Agency of Japan, was
created from the combination of two, previously independent
space organizations that built rockets and spacecraft:
(National Space Development Agency of Japan) is responsible
for practical applications of space, e.g. weather satellites,
communications satellites, etc. They funded the development
of the HA-II rocket that roughly parallels the capabilities
of the Ariane 4 and Delta III rockets.
(Agency for Space and Aeronautical Research) is a university
based group that concentrates on scientific research.
It was born as an institute within the University of
Tokyo but was reorganized as a multi-university organization.
NASDA uses the Tanegashima Space Center for its launches
while ISAS uses Kagoshima.
Space Center JAXA, the Japanese space agency, uses the Tanegashima
Space Center for launching its spacecraft. Tanegashima
welcomes visitors and rocket launch observers.
KSC was founded in 1962 in Uchinoura on the east coast
of Ohsumi Peninsula, Kagoshima Prefecture. The hilly
site has developed extensive facilities with launch
pads, telemetry, tracking and command stations, and
optical observations posts. Over 300 rockets have been
launched since 1962.
I've only found this short page on KSC so far at the
site. I've not found any info yet on tourist facilities
or launch viewing opportunities.
Chinese spaceports include:
Wenchang on island of Hainan - major expansion currently
under construction. Should open in 2013.
Satellite Launch Center -
Western commercial satellites
are now frequently launched by Chinese rockets and employees
of the payload companies get invited to the launches.
The three current Chinese spaceports are in the interior
of the country and have been enveloped in military like
secrecy. There is very limited access by civilians,
Chinese or foreigners. The launch facilities are not
in unpopulated areas and, in fact, the authorities have
been trying to encourage people to move out of areas
under the flight paths. In one of the few known cases
of a rocket failure causing civilian deaths, a Long
March in 1996 crashed into a village near the launch
The new spaceport on Wenchang, however, will be much
more open. There will even be a nearby space theme park.
The Space Adventures/Prodea/RSA Explorer consortium
will provide suborbital vehicles for this facility.
The spaceport will also provide a space Zero-G flights,
hight altitude jet flights, and other space related
attractions. See also the UAE
India has a vigorous space program despite limited
resources. It's programs
illustrate just how important space is for developing
countries. India's PSLV
launcher put its remote sensing satellite IRS-1D
into polar orbit in 1997. The GSLV
launcher will put satellites into geostationary
Its remote sensing satellites provide details on agricultural
conditions, forestry, urban development, etc. Communications
satellites provide a quick and cheap way to bring telephony
and TV to remote areas.
In 1999 a collaboration led by Boeing will bring a floating
launch pad, built from a oil drilling platform, from
Long Beach, California to a point a 1500 miles south
of Hawaii to send commercial payloads to orbit.
Perhaps if you are sailing around the Pacific you might
cruise over to watch a launch. (It's in international
waters so they can't bother you.)
Asia Pacific Space Centre
The International Resource Corporation (IRC) proposed
to locate its Asia Pacific Space Launch Center on Christmas
Island, also called Kiritimati. (This is also where
the Bounty mutineers took refuge.) It is close to the
equator where rockets can obtain maximum boost from
the earth's rotation.
Woomera In the 1960s the European Launcher Development Organization
(ELDO) began development of the Europa launcher there
but moved to Kourou, French Guiana
in June 1970.
Only two satellites were ever launched from Woomera:
the Australian WRESAT was launched in 1967 on a U.S.
Redstone and in the British Prospero on a British launcher.
Britain ended its operations at Woomera in 1976. Some
sounding rocket launches have occured there. Recently,
the Japanese tested the glide landing capabilities of
the unmanned AFLEX lifting body, a precurser to their
HOPE reusable space vehicle.
Aerospace planned to use this site in south Australia
as its initial testing ground for its K-1 reusable 2-stage
vehicle. This area was originally developed by Britain
and Australia in 1947 and was used to test missiles.
It was hoped that Kistler wouldrevive Woomera. Kistler
in July 1998 announced the groundbreaking but funding
problems in 1999 left the project unfinished.