Abandoned in Place: Preserving America's Space History 0826356257, 9780826356253

Stenciled on many of the deactivated facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the evocative phrase “abandoned in

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Abandoned in Place: Preserving America's Space History
 0826356257, 9780826356253

Table of contents :
Abandon in Place • Ray Bradbury
Foreword: Recapturing Our Youth • Roger D. Launius
Prologue: Then and Now • Bob Thall
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Shooting for the Moon: The Fine Art of Space • Betsy Fahlman
1 First Steps
2 Mercury Redstone/Atlas
3 Research Facilities
4 Gemini Titan
5 Full Circle with the Cape’s Mighty Launch Pads 40 and 41 • Craig Covault
6 Apollo Saturn
Remembering Pad • Pamela Melroy
7 The Cultural Heritage of the Moon • Beth Laura O’Leary

Citation preview

Abandoned in Place


ROL AND MIL L ER Foreword by Roger D. Launius Prologue by Bob Thall Introduction by Betsy Fahlman Essays by Craig Covault, Pamela Melroy, and Beth Laura O’Leary

University of New Mexico Press ■ Albuquerque

Preserving America’s Space History

© 2016 by Roland Miller All rights reserved. Published 2016 Printed in China 21 20 19 18 17 16

1 2 3 4 5 6

The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows: Miller, Roland, 1958– Abandoned in place : preserving America’s space history / by Roland Miller ; foreword by Roger D. Launius ; prologue by Bob Thall ; introduction by Betsy Fahlman ; essays by Craig Covault, Pamela Melroy, and Beth Laura O’Leary. pages cm isbn 978-0-8263-5625-3 (cloth : alk. paper) — isbn 978-0-8263-5626-0 (electronic) 1. Launch complexes (Astronautics)—Florida—Cape Canaveral—History. 2. Astronautics—United States—History. 3. Abandoned buildings— Florida—Cape Canaveral. I. Launius, Roger D. II. Title. TL4027.F5M55 2016 629.409759’27—dc23 2015007796 Cover photograph: Launch Ring, Launch Complex 34, Apollo Saturn, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, 1990. Courtesy of the author. Designed by Lila Sanchez and Felicia Cedillos Ray Bradbury’s “Abandon in Place” is reprinted by permission of Don Congdon Associates, Inc. © 1981 by Ray Bradbury

This book is dedicated to all the men and women who played a part in getting the United States to the moon and back. for Amy

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Abandon in Place | viii


Research Facilities | 49

Ray Bradbury



Recapturing Our Youth

Gemini Titan

| xi

Roger D. Launius

| 75


Full Circle with the Cape’s Mighty Launch Pads 40 and 41 PROLOGUE

| 91

Craig Covault

Then and Now | xvii Bob Thall


Preface and Acknowledgments

| xxi

Apollo Saturn | 103 Remembering Pad 34


| 112

Pamela Melroy

Shooting for the Moon: The Fine Art of Space | 1 Betsy Fahlman


The Cultural Heritage of the Moon | 137 CHAPTER 1

First Steps

Beth Laura O’Leary

| 11 Index


Mercury Redstone/Atlas

| 145

| 25


Abandon in Place Ray Bradbury Three elegies written on visiting the deserted rocket pads at Cape Canaveral




Abandon in Place. No Further Maintenance Authorized. Abandon. Turn away your face. No more the mad high wanderings of thought You once surmised. Let be! Wipe out the stars. Put out the skies. What lived as center to our souls Now dies—so what?—now dies. What once as arrow to our thoughts Which target-ran in blood-fast flow No longer flies. Cut off the stars. Slam shut the teeming skies. Abandon in Place. Burn out your eyes.

Where firebirds once Now daubers caulk the seams; Where firewings flew To blueprint young men’s dreams, Now warbler here and osprey weave their nests From laces lost from off a spaceman’s tread. The great hearthplace stands cold, Its Phoenix dead. No more from out the coals Bright salamanders burn and gyre, Only the bright beasts’ skins and restless bones bed here, And lost the fire. O, Phoenix, rub thy bones, No more suspire! Flint souls, strike mind against wild mind. Return! Be born of spent desire. Bright burn. Bright burn! O mighty God’s voice, shorn, Give shout next Easter morn. Be born! (Our prayer calls you to life.) Reborn of fire!

3 Abandon in Place. So the sign says, so the words go. The show is spent, the fire-walkers gone, And gone the glow at dawn. This day? No rockets rise like thunder. The wonder still remains In meadows where mound-dwellers not so long ago Envied the birds, the untouched stars, And let their touching envy grow. Machineries stir here with falls of rust; The lust for space still echoes In the birds that circle lost in mourning cries Repeating shouts of crowds long-spent Whose aching shook the skies. The sea moves down the shore In wave on wave full-whispering, No more. No more. When will the harvesters return To gather further wonders as a fuel

And let them burn? How soon will all of Earth mob round, come here once more To stop the night, Put doubt away for good with rocket light? O soon, O let that day be soon When midnight blossoms with grand ships As bright and high as noon. Prepare the meadows, birds, and mounds, Old ghosts of rocketmen, arise. Fling up your ships, your souls, your flesh, your blood, Your blinding dreams To fill, refill, and fill again Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’s Promised and re-promised Skies.



Launch Ring Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1990

Foreword Recapturing Our Youth


ll that is left of Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 34, the first site used to launch Saturn I rockets for the Apollo program in the 1960s, are a concrete and refractory brick pad, a reinforced concrete pedestal that served as a base for the rocket, a launch control center (now used for storage), and two steel blast deflectors. NASA mothballed the site, which was used between 1961 and 1968, in November 1971 and cannibalized most of its components in April 1972. Even so, NASA retained control of Launch Complex 34, and it later became a NASA tour stop for many years. Most significant, Launch Complex 34 was designated, along with several other sites at Cape Canaveral, Florida, a National Historic Landmark in April 1984. It now shows significant signs of deterioration from the weather. Launch Complex 34 has three markers, each suggesting the myth and memory of the race to the moon, that ethereal adventure of my youth. Two of them are plaques documenting the tragedy of Apollo 1, the capsule fire that killed astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White II, and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967. One of these two plaques names the three astronauts and states: “They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind’s final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.” The other states, “AD ASTRA PER ASPERA (A ROUGH ROAD LEADS TO THE STARS),” and ends, “GOD SPEED TO THE CREW OF APOLLO 1.” Both commemorate, in an especially reverential manner, the most dramatic

event of the launch pad’s history and the most tragic incident of the entire moon-landing effort. These plaques interpret the disaster as an example of sacrifice for a higher purpose; they are a statement of faith in the eternal place of the crew in human history. They also emphasize that the long road of exploration requires the sacrifice of those engaging in it, with some offering the ultimate sacrifice. Only through this process may America reach for the stars. A third sign, stenciled on one leg of the concrete pedestal facing the Atlantic Ocean, reads: “ABANDON IN PLACE.” In that statement, an unknown worker encapsulated the fate of one of the largest and most extraordinary endeavors in the history of the United States—indeed, in the history of the world. Ironically, for all the effort that went into the race to the moon, upon its successful completion much of the infrastructure created to support it was abandoned. Some was altered for other uses, and much more was torn down. This includes not only sites on Earth, but also six landing sites on the moon. Roland Miller’s book documents the state of the artifacts of the space age: the launch complexes, research and development facilities, laboratories, test sites, and manufacturing centers of the great enterprise of the space age’s first fifteen years. There are, of course, well-cared-for museums and historic sites around the country that tell this story of space flight, but the relics of the effort are strewn across the landscape like so many dinosaur bones.


These remnants of space exploration signal another time, which seems so far away to us now. Also part of this story are the rusted missiles and spacecraft placed in rocket gardens around the nation; the Apollo boilerplate capsule in a park gazebo near Lancaster, California, forgotten by most; the oddities collected by roadside sellers; and the stray space-race objects in ad hoc “museums.” So, too, are the “Moon Hut” in Cape Canaveral, an astronaut hangout since Apollo, and the McDonald’s near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, with a giant plastic Apollo astronaut standing on its roof. How might we begin to understand and appreciate this undertaking and its place in our world? Because of the rare experience of the space race, small value was placed on maintaining, in working order, the infrastructure that made trips to the moon possible. Little could be accomplished to ensure the preservation of, for example, Launch Complexes 39A and B at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA reconfigured the sites for Space Shuttle program operations, in the process destroying the integrity of the Apollo complexes. Aside from the White Rooms, which were removed and maintained intact, the remains of the structures were discarded. The story of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), also at the Kennedy Space Center, is somewhat different. Again, NASA modified the interior of the building for shuttle use, but left the exterior essentially as it had been during the Apollo years. In that sense, the VAB is similar to hundreds of historic structures in the United States whose facades have been preserved, at least to some degree, while their interiors have been modernized and modified for new activities. Old train stations, theaters, hotels, and a host of other buildings have been “saved” in this manner. The VAB is different mostly in its size and prominence in the national consciousness. NASA’s Mission Control Center at the Manned Spacecraft Center (renamed the Johnson Space Center in 1973) has been preserved intact since it was retired from service in the 1990s. It is like many historic homes in the United States, such as the Margaret Chase Smith home in Maine. Chase was a longtime member of the Senate and the only senator to rise and denounce Joseph McCarthy during his red-baiting days in the 1950s. Her home, frozen in time at the point of her death, was preserved in the same way as the Mission Control Center. This approach to historic


preservation is a legitimate method of capturing the essence of spaceprogram history, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center did well in taking this approach. NASA also transferred to the National Air and Space Museum its historic Apollo capsules, spacesuits, and other equipment to ensure their preservation and visibility indefinitely into the future. The display and conservation of these artifacts are further appropriate examples of commemoration. NASA leaders seem to be pleased with the overall result, not because their role is to appreciate history and seek a sophisticated understanding of the past, either for themselves or for the public, but because commemoration serves to demonstrate their enormously significant accomplishments in reaching the moon. The leaders have uniformly affirmed that NASA made dramatic history during the Apollo era—and that the history of the era must be celebrated and disseminated. There is a major issue starting to emerge concerning the future preservation of the Apollo landing sites on the moon, as there are efforts to return to the lunar surface and investigate the lunar landing sites (see chapter 7). No question, these sites are historically significant; they are perhaps as significant as any human site on Earth. Ensuring that some future nation/ company/person does not loot the sites—as conquerors of other nations’ cultural sites have done repeatedly—remains an important goal. To name only three instances, we do not want to be reminded of Napoleon’s plundering of antiquities in Egypt; the results of the American invasion of Baghdad in 2003 and the damage to collections at the national museum; or the loss of Antarctic history caused by the pillaging of historic camps on the ice by tourists and others. There is no question that the space race has historical, as well as ahistorical, significance for the United States. The material-culture objects of the space race help to commemorate the major events and milestones from the early period of space exploration. They celebrate national pride in the accomplishments of that period. What are the stories they tell, and why do they tell them? How do they impart meaning to the people who see them today? More than half the world’s population has been born since the last Apollo mission and has no firsthand knowledge of the adventure.

Wreath Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991


Saturn V Rocket Moving to the Saturn V Center, with the Vehicle Assembly Building in the Background NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 1996 xiv

Mission Control NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas 1996 xv

A not-insignificant fraction of preserved material culture from Apollo is used to construct a common narrative: the program represents the implementation of a grand visionary concept for human exploration, which may be directly traced to the European voyages of discovery that began in the fifteenth century. Apollo has been celebrated—with its artifacts helping to sustain this notion—as an investment in technology, science, and knowledge that would enable humanity to do more than just dip its toes in the cosmic ocean. We would become a truly spacefaring people. At a basic level, the space race and its material culture serve as a trope of America’s grand vision for the future. This exceptionalist perspective

dominates our understanding of the American past and shapes our perspective of our future. Its preservation helps us to recapture our youth. Roland Miller’s fine imagery, along with the essays presented here, suggests that as we move further in time from those thrilling events, we might be remembering a sort of Camelot, a time and circumstance in which, to paraphrase the words of the fictional Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams, “all the cosmic tumblers clicked into place to make possible our reaching for the stars.” What might we gain in our quest to understand and recapture our youth? Roger D. Launius Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs National Air and Space Museum Smithsonian Institution


Prologue Then and Now


oland Miller’s Abandoned in Place is a wonderful book and full of surprises. In these photographs documenting the remnants of technology, there is considerable beauty. Miller shows us breathtaking views of the landscapes chosen for launch and test sites. Despite the fact that these buildings and apparatuses were constructed with only function in mind, his photographs reveal much sculptural and painterly charm. But I think the most interesting issue raised by this excellent book is the way in which photography can relate to time—how the significance of photographs taken then can evolve and expand when viewed now. Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographers may have had their own sets of interests and intentions in making photographs, but contemporary viewers will read those old images very differently. Over the decades, the meaning and value of those photographs have changed. Whereas a straightforward descriptive photograph might have been created from particular motives, viewers a hundred years later see something different: they see landscapes, people, technology, styles, and cultural contexts that have been lost or radically changed. The contemporary viewer knows what happened after the photograph was made and sees the picture in terms of the present. Often, this adds new interest and poignancy. I think this can be especially true when the photograph is made to show new, cutting-edge technology. That kind of photograph is so distinctly about the fresh moment, taken with pride and excitement about the future.

There are many examples of this, including the 1903 photograph of the then brand-new water-pumping station on Chicago Avenue in Chicago. Over one hundred years later, we see the nineteenth-century wrought-iron structure; the huge, shiny, clearly handmade mechanism; the period dress and mustaches; and even the postures that strike us as being from another time. Rather than present an exciting image of a technology designed and built to deliver water in a new way, the photograph is quaint, historic, and perhaps a bit sad. Many descriptive photographs, rolling downhill through time, pick up new meanings and importance. I think all photographers making documentary images have noticed that this happens, and many react in their process and choice of subject matter. For photographers, searching the remnants of the past is perhaps the simplest photographic strategy used to cash in on the passage of time. In America, there are few ancient ruins, but photographers have searched out and documented fragments of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in small towns and along historic highways. Photographs of western ghost towns, abandoned mines, surviving blacksmith shops, old barns, remains of early Florida resorts, and motels and diners along Route 66 are examples of this. Other photographers find old images of people, places, and things and make matching contemporary images. The strict process of precisely duplicating an early photograph allows—compels—the viewer to see the changes


and contemplate the passage of time. These “rephotographic” projects certainly do the job, but they do not allow the contemporary photographer much opportunity to test his or her insights or skills, or even to hope for some photographic dumb luck. For a photographer interested in contemporary life, the issue of the passage of time often provides motivation to work a little harder. Get that building recorded before it might change or be torn down, that group of people photographed while they work and live together, those industries documented at this one crucial moment, etc. Although photographers do not really know what will change, they can hope that some of their photographs will be more interesting and valuable later on. In the meantime, they look to current interests, label negatives and files carefully, and invest in archival storage. What is so interesting about Roland Miller’s admirable Abandoned in Place is that he has found the perfect subject to collapse the gap of time and to speed up the process by which photographs accrue new and more complex meanings.


People are still orbiting Earth, and we hear news from exploratory craft on the edge of the solar system. The space and rocket programs would seem to be part of our contemporary life—they are endeavors focused on the future. Yet Roland Miller’s photographs surprise us as bits of scientific and cultural archaeology. They have all the quaintness and poignancy of photographs of steam engines from the nineteenth century. The image of the Apollo 13 capsule in chapter 6, for example, shows us a machine that looks far older than we would expect. Sad, and appearing to the uninitiated as though it could have been cobbled together like a basement hobby project, it suggests an age that has long since passed. The phones, the gauges, even the colors chosen for the interiors remind us that this pioneering push into the technological future is now part of our past. Like all the best documentary photographs, the pictures in Abandoned in Place step beyond the specifics of the subjects depicted and the time when they were made. They urge us to reflect on larger issues. Bob Thall Associate Professor of Photography Columbia College, Chicago

Men Standing Next to Sally, a Waterworks Steam-Engine Inside the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station 1903 Reproduced by permission from the Chicago History Museum, negative number DN-0000364 xix

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Preface and Acknowledgments


first witnessed a rocket launch shortly after moving to Florida. In 1984 I had taken a job at Brevard Community College as a photography lab manager and instructor. I was out eating dinner at Harold’s, a bar on the Indian River, just south of Titusville and directly across from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Suddenly, there was a distant roar, which grew rapidly until it was louder than any car or aircraft could reasonably have been. The bar had a back door leading down to a dock on the river. I ran out the door and down to the dock. All I could see was a contrail disappearing into a bank of high clouds. Two men, who obviously had known the launch was coming, were at the end of the dock. A bit overly excited, I asked them, “What is it, what is it?” One of the men turned to me and, in a classic Florida drawl, said, “Son, it’s gone.” Needless to say, I was hooked. As a child in the 1960s, I found the space program to be pure magic. It was science fiction come to life. I realize now how it must have seemed to adults at the time, especially those who had experienced World War II. We were launching humans into space only sixteen years after the end of the war. The Cold War had begun at the end of World War II, with the race between the United States and the USSR to capture German rocket scientists. It was a simple phone call from an environmental engineer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that led me to photograph the space race’s

historic launch and test sites. It was 1988, and I was advising the engineer on how to properly dispose of some old photographic chemicals. In the process, he took me to Complex 19, the launch site of the Gemini Titan missions. I knew in an instant that I needed to photograph these ruins of early space flight. It took several years to get the access I desired. Once I showed my initial work to NASA and Air Force officials, they gave their approval for the project. In 1993 I was planning an exhibit of Abandoned in Place at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama when the curator, Bruce Hiles, suggested that I take some photographs at the Marshall Space Flight Center, located in Huntsville. I took his suggestion, and I then realized that I should photograph other NASA, Air Force, and Army facilities that had been integral to the space program. This experience led me to photograph deactivated, repurposed, and abandoned facilities all over the United States. I titled my project Abandoned in Place because these words are stenciled on many of the deactivated facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. To me, “abandoned in place” is an obvious metaphor for the abandonment of our manned space-exploration efforts and for the public’s loss of interest that occurred after the first few moon-landing missions. The term is actually a civil engineering designation, indicating that a specific facility is no longer active or being maintained. These concrete and steel structures were designed and built to withstand not only powerful nominal launches but cataclysmic


rocket failures as well. By 2013 all the steel structures at the deactivated launch pads on Cape Canaveral had succumbed to demolition and the coastal saltwater environment. Many of the concrete structures remain. One engineer told me that an entirely new method of demolition would need to be developed to take down some of the reinforced concrete superstructures from the early rocket programs. So instead of being demolished, they were abandoned in place. The purpose of my Abandoned in Place project is to preserve these historic sites through photography. Four authors contributed essays to Abandoned in Place. These authors provide four different perspectives on the history and documentation of space exploration. As historian, journalist, astronaut, and archaeologist, they present a broad range of outlooks regarding space-exploration history and the recording and preservation of the material culture of these ventures. Dr. Betsy Fahlman, a professor of art history at Arizona State University, provides a historic perspective on the relationship of space science to art. Craig Covault is an aerospace journalist who has covered every major American space-exploration project, starting with the Apollo program. Covault’s essay details the history and progression of Launch Complexes 40 and 41, giving readers an impression of how these launch sites evolved over time through various projects and phases. Colonel Pamela Melroy, a former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander, discusses the history of Apollo Launch Complex 34 and how her experience with that historic facility affected her work on the Columbia Reconstruction Team. Dr. Beth Laura O’Leary, a professor emerita of archaeology at New Mexico State University, provides an essay describing the preservation of the cultural heritage of the moon. It focuses on the “archaeological assemblage” created by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin at the first lunar landing site and the ways in which the site and its artifacts could be preserved for future generations. Part of the importance of documenting these historic remnants of early space travel and exploration lies in the remnants’ capacity for inspiring curiosity and creativity. They engage our primal instinct to explore and push boundaries. At a time when the United States is beginning to lag in math and science achievement, as well as in the number of college


graduates in these fields, the urgency of inspiring young minds may be greater than ever before. The deactivated facilities also speak to a time when the United States was, in some ways, at its best. Maybe because of the many issues in America at the time—the war in Vietnam, the struggling civil rights movement, the war on poverty, and others—the triumphs of the Apollo program and its predecessors were that much more significant. I was drawn to photograph these facilities for many reasons. The historical aspects make them worthy of preservation through photography. The engineering that went into creating the structures intrigues me. Sociologically, the interaction of high science and technology with the intrigue of the Cold War and the space race allows for exploration and interpretation of the political landscape of a post–World War II civilization. From an aesthetic standpoint, I am fascinated by the colors and how time creates beautiful textures, tints, and tones. From a conceptual viewpoint, I find that the weathering and aging of these structures hint at the temporal nature of life. My photographic goal has been to create a body of photographs that not only documents and describes the general setting of these facilities, but also records and interprets the smaller, more detailed nuances. This combined formalistic-documentary methodology allows me to more fully depict, record, and interpret the sites. The abstract becomes concrete, the formalistic becomes conceptual, the historic becomes aesthetic, and the artistic becomes interpretive. Finally, these remnants of space exploration history connect me to my childhood experiences of watching the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launches and landings on our small black-and-white television. They remind me of a time when anything was possible, when people dared to dream big and take risks for important rewards. They confirm for me that there is still hope of exploration for knowledge’s sake, of discovery designed merely to seek what is out there, to move us past our limits and above our fears, and to challenge our minds and hearts. ———

This project would not have been possible without the assistance of countless people. In the over twenty-five years that this project encompasses, there have been many who deserve my thanks. I undoubtedly will leave some out, but not purposefully. I am indebted to my academic colleagues, Dr. Maxwell King, Dr. Jerry Weber, and Dr. Richard Haney, for their support and assistance with this endeavor. Former Kennedy Space Center director general Forest McCartney; Colonel Jerry Johnson, former Cape Canaveral Air Force Station commander; and Dr. Sonny Witt, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station director of operations, were essential in allowing me the access and time to complete the amount of work required to thoroughly document Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. For much of the early work, I photographed using Fuji camera equipment on loan to me from Gary Scott of the Fujifilm Corporation. Much of the later work was created with Canon photography equipment provided by Ed Meyers of Canon U.S.A. Inc. I want to thank my friend and digital guru at Progear Rental of Chicago, Doug Sperling, for his insight and assistance with my equipment needs. My great thanks for the many courtesies extended by Robin Lambert, Mike Wheeler, Robert Wicker, Harvey Renshaw, Matt Ventimiglia, Max Ary, Jackie and Paul Schaeffer, Jim Theriac, Sue and Dave Petrov, James Crizer, Pat Miller, Steve and Kathy Pattengale, and, especially, Steve, Lynn, and Sam Spencer. While preparing exhibitions of Abandoned in Place, I have been lucky to work with wise and talented curators who were able to see something new in the work and, more important, to capture the concept and spirit of the portfolio in their own ways. I have learned much from Amy Dickerson, Bruce Hiles, Peter Baldaia, Andy Hunnold, Larry Douglas, Jim Remar, Greg Shuman, and Vivian Spencer. It would not have been possible to make these images without the great assistance of the public affairs staff and escorts from NASA, the US Air Force, and the US Army, and from commercial aerospace contractors. From NASA, I want to thank Keith Koehler, Jo Brink, Dr. Dom Armatore,

Jim Sahli, Marny Skora, Mike Finneran, Keith Henry, Ann Gaudreaux, Lynnette Madison, Eileen Walsh, Lanee Cobb, Lacy Thompson, Daniel Kanigan, Manny Virata, Mary Ann Chevalier, Sam Beddingfield, Charlie Parker, Ken Thornsley, Lisa Fowler, Laurel Lichtenberger, Hugh Harris, Chuck Hollingshead, Art Maples, and Lisa Malone. Assistance in photographing at Air Force and Army facilities came from Kevin Hooper, Ken Warren, Ranney Adams, Billy Birdwell, and Jim Eckles. I also want to thank Carlos Prado, Mindy Vanderbrink, Melodie de Guibert, Dan Beck, Carolyn Greminger, and Frank Will for their assistance with accessing and photographing at contractor-operated facilities. I owe a special thank you to Kay Grinter, Debbie Odom, and Margaret Persinger of the Kennedy Space Center’s NASA News Center, for their research advice and numerous leads. My lab assistants were essential to ensuring the quality of my prints. I thank Ed Brenton, Mike Cadorette, William Smith, and Bob Wimmer for all their fine efforts. Tom Kraft graciously allowed me to use his photography lab. Rick Francis Walsh assisted me on two road trips to photograph at NASA centers. I am grateful for his humor and skill. Fellow photo educators Don Clark, Denis Defibaugh, and Mark Francis all gave me muchneeded and -appreciated feedback on the early versions of this book. I appreciate the essays provided by Craig Covault, Dr. Betsy Fahlman, Colonel Pamela Melroy, and Dr. Beth Laura O’Leary. Their experience with and insight into the history of space and art greatly enlarged the breadth of this book. I am humbled by the kind words with which Bob Thall and Dr. Roger D. Launius introduced this book. I am indebted to the estate of Ray Bradbury for allowing the use of his “Abandon in Place” elegies. I thank John Byram, Clark Whitehorn, Maya Allen-Gallegos, James Ayers, Marie Landau, Grace Labatt, Elizabeth Hadas, Lisa Tremaine, Felicia Cedillos, Lila Sanchez, and all the staff of the University of New Mexico Press for their guidance and input in producing this book. There are five individuals without whom this project would not have been possible. I thank Carol Cavanaugh at NASA Public Affairs for first believing in the idea. Without her support and help, I never could have begun the photography. Bruce Forton gave me a month of Saturdays and Sundays, literally, to escort me during photography of the initial body of


work at Cape Canaveral. We would meet at 5:30 a.m. and spend weekend mornings photographing the abandoned pads at Cape Canaveral. His knowledge of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and his generosity with his time allowed me to create a large body of work when I first began this project. He is a true friend. Robert Castro has kept me involved in this project for twice as long as I otherwise might have been. I will be forever in his debt for his encouragement and his wealth of space-history knowledge. My friend and colleague Todd Bertolaet first hired me to work at Brevard Community College, now Eastern Florida State College, where I rekindled my love of space exploration. His friendship, advice, and encouragement have been invaluable to me over the years. John “Johnny” H. Johnson, former deputy commander of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, has spent innumerable hours escorting me on “the Cape.” He loves the history of Cape Canaveral as much as anyone I know. Johnny has been instrumental in allowing many, including me, to visit and document the facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the support and sacrifice of my wife, Amy. She proves her love for me every day. I also thank my parents for making me get up at five o’clock in the morning to watch the liftoff of the Mercury missions on our black-and-white television. Those monochrome images are burned into my heart and soul. The opportunities to photograph those same historic sites have created a magical experience. Finally, I thank the hundreds of thousands of men and women who sacrificed so much for America’s space program. The untold hours of their efforts are preserved in the rusty steel and concrete of the remaining facilities I have had the fortune to explore. Though time and the elements have undone many of the structures, it is impossible not to be impressed by the innovation, ingenuity, and intricacy of these historic and unique launch and


research facilities. I have had the privilege to meet many of the people who worked on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs and other rocket systems. I am humbled by their dedication, motivation, and sacrifice. The goals attained during the early period of space flight will stand as benchmarks of achievement. Backers of the Abandoned in Place Kickstarter campaign funded this book in large part. I owe a great debt of gratitude to those who pledged and backed the project. Everyone who contributed helped to make this book a reality. I am especially indebted to the following sponsors and patrons. Sponsors Nedra Adams-Soller and Richard Soller, Bill Allen, Paul Anderson, Greg Ansley, Teresa Aguinaldo and Patrick Gonder, Steve Avery, Lamont and Julie Barrientos, Reggie Boring, Paul Butel, Robert and Sylvia Carlson, Jonathan Carpenter, Juston Carpenter, Nancy Cook and Dan Ziembo, Kevin Coulter and Julie Tominaga, Lorenzo Dutto, Curtis B. Edmundson, Mark Francis, Dawn Gardner, David Groeninger and Wendy Rosen, Thomas Guss, Jason Halter, Rich and Amy Haney, Ron Hendricks, Jeff Jackowski, Randy Justus, Merrie Kaas, Ken Keiser, E. D. Kam and Judy Kersey, Bhavya Lal, Jonas Lamis, Rob Lancefield, Jack and Helen Martin, Jack Mcwilliam, Steve and Kathy Pattengale, Dave and Sue Petrov, Michael Prendergast, Richard Pruss, Paul and Jackie Schaeffer, Lee and Brenda Schussman, Wilbur Smith, Alistair Spencer, Jennifer Staben, Bruce Starrenburg, Sarah Stashkiw, Janine Wanlass, and Jerry Weber. Patrons Nathan Melanson and Pat Miller.


Shooting for the Moon The Fine Art of Space

Betsy Fahlman

Industrial Archaeology and Art Central to the field of industrial archaeology are sites and structures of immense scale, as well as artifacts of the rich heritage of our industrial and technological past, which include bridges, railroads, dams, manufacturing complexes, power plants, and launch pads. The extraordinary sizes of these sites, structures, and artifacts pose challenging preservation problems and environmental concerns. The huge remains and facilities relating to the American space program are the subject of Abandoned in Place. (This term is stenciled on structures at Cape Canaveral no longer maintained by the US Air Force.) 1 While the field of industrial archaeology is a young one, its primary subjects date back to the eighteenth century and the start of the Industrial Revolution in England, marked by the construction of the graceful arc of the Iron Bridge (1779) over the River Severn in Coalbrookdale.2 As the first successful textile mill in America, Samuel Slater’s 1793 mill on the Blackstone River in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, marks the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. From the beginning, artists sought inspiration in these emblems of industrial progress. Philippe de Loutherbourg (1740–1812) gave a Dickensian view of satanic mills inflaming the sky in his Coalbrookdale at Night (1801, Science Museum, London). Goods made possible through innovations in manufacturing were celebrated at London’s

Crystal Palace (1851), and Machinery Hall at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 presented the massive engines of progress to an admiring public. Dramatic paintings of forges and foundries by Englishman Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797) in the late eighteenth century and American John Ferguson Weir (1841–1926) in the 1860s gave way to the stunning spectacle of the Bessemer blasts of Pittsburgh’s big steel. In the twentieth century, it was Joseph Pennell (1857–1926) who captured the progressive-era spirit of modern industry on an international scale most forcefully, in prints inspired by the “wonders of work” in America and Europe. More recently, the dense clouds of smoke and brilliant trails of fire typical of NASA rocket launches created stunning visual effects. Photography and Astronomy Artists interested in industrial subjects were also often intrigued by parallel developments in science. A mezzotint by William Pether, after Joseph Wright of Derby’s canvas A Philosopher Reading a Lecture on the Orrery (1764–1766, Derby Museum and Gallery, Derby, England), referenced the Enlightenment fascination with cosmology within a domestic setting. An orrery was a device employed in the teaching of astronomy; using a lamp as the sun, it both mapped and showed the operation of the solar system.3


Starting with the 1839 announcement of the daguerreotype process at a joint meeting of the French Academy of Sciences and the French Academy of Arts in Paris, photography aligned naturally with the sciences, especially optics, chemistry, and astronomy. (François Arago, who described the process, was a physicist.) Its technological aspects would remain primary for many practitioners. Indeed, the long battle waged by the proponents of the medium, who sought to have it accepted as fully equal to the rest of the fine arts, was not won until the first decade of the twentieth century. 4 British photographer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) made what he called photogenic drawings of botanical specimens as early as 1834. The exquisite cyanotypes of Anna Atkins (1799–1871) carefully recorded the

details of the ferns and algae she studied. Her 1843 book British Algae, the first to be illustrated with photographs, was a milestone in the history of publishing. The medium quickly became linked with the microscope and the telescope as authoritative tools, as scientists sought to explore and reveal both minute and immense universes.5 The invention of the daguerreotype revolutionized the practice of astronomy, as M. Susan Barger has observed: The adoption of photography as a tool was perhaps the most important innovation in the practice of astronomy introduced during the nineteenth century. Photography enabled the astronomer to render celestial objects directly without the need of an artist. It made it possible to record astronomical objects and events so that they could be studied both at leisure and at any time in the future.6 The daguerreotype came to America in 1839, and the image taken the next year by John William Draper (1811–1882) from his observatory at New York University on March 23, 1840, remains the first known photograph of the moon (New York University Archives). Draper was a professor of chemistry and natural history at the university, and he also served on the medical faculty. His pioneering image, however, did not become widely known in scientific circles. Inventor John Adams Whipple (1822–1891) of Boston was another early practitioner, and his extraordinary View of the Moon (February 26, 1852) remains a landmark of early astronomical photography. 7 The process of recording the moon was a technically challenging one, and Whipple collaborated with astronomers at the Harvard Observatory. With that institution’s fifteen-inch telescope—then the largest and most mechanically advanced in the world (it was known as the Great Refractor)—Whipple photographed, according to M. Grant, “the beauties of the celestial hemisphere.” 8 His images elicited great interest from European scientists, and in revealing, as Henry Hunt Snelling wrote, “the secrets of celestial space,” Whipple made a significant contribution to nineteenth-­century science.9 In addition to his daguerreotypes of the moon (1851, 1852), Whipple also recorded a partial eclipse of the sun (1851) and a view of Jupiter (1860).10


William Pether, after Joseph Wright of Derby A Philosopher Reading a Lecture on the Orrery 1768 Mezzotint on paper, 19.5 × 23.75 in. (49.53 × 60.32 cm) Reproduced by permission from the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts

The brothers William (1807–1874) and Frederick (1809–1879) Langenheim, successful Philadelphia commercial photographers, made another significant accomplishment in the history of astronomical photography. On May 26, 1854, they recorded an annular eclipse of the sun in a series of eight small daguerreotypes, depicting what was the first such solar event “visible in North America since the invention of photography.” 11 Photography and Aviation From the Montgolfier brothers’ first journey aloft in a hot air balloon in 1783 until the debut of airplanes in the early twentieth century, artists were fascinated by the latest means of earthbound release.12 Noted Parisian portrait photographer Nadar (1820–1910) made successful aerial photographs in 1858, and his well-publicized adventures inspired caricaturist Honoré Daumier’s lithograph Nadar Raising Photography to the Height of Art (1862), showing the artist and his camera floating above Paris. In the early 1860s, Nadar constructed a huge balloon he called Le Géant, and although it only lasted a short time—it crashed in 1863—it garnered great notoriety in the press. With his friend Jules Verne as secretary, Nadar served as president of the “Society for the Encouragement of Aerial Locomotion by Means of Heavier Than Air Machines.” Verne’s friendship with the photographer provided inspiration for his Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863) and From the Earth to the Moon (1865).

William Langenheim and Frederick Langenheim Eclipse of the Sun May 26, 1854 Daguerreotype, 1.25 × 1 in. (3.2 × 2.5 cm) to 2.81 × 2.31 in. (7.2 × 5.9 cm) Reproduced by permission, image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, New York

John Adams Whipple View of the Moon February 26, 1852 Quarter-plate daguerreotype Reproduced by permission from Harvard College Observatory Library


NASA as Art Patron Earthrise, the extraordinary image taken a little more than a century later by Apollo 11 astronauts—who would soon land on the moon in July 1969— reverses the view of Whipple’s small black-and-white image on metal. Whipple and Nadar might never have imagined any such space program that would land a man on the moon. When the Russians sent up Sputnik 1 in 1957, they catalyzed a high-stakes Cold War space race between the United States and the USSR, each eager for the “firsts” by which they could assert technological as well as ideological superiority.13 Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit Earth, in 1961, spurring further competition. There had long been a fascination with space themes in popular culture; Buck Rogers made his debut in 1929 in a science fiction comic strip. The reality of Sputnik resulted in two significant cultural exchanges between America and the Soviet Union during the summer of 1959. The Soviet Union opened the Exhibition of Science, Technology, and Culture at the New York Coliseum, and the cover of the brochure that accompanied it pictured Sputnik 3, which had been launched in 1958. Saul Zalesch has noted, “The show was divided into 12 sections addressing: Industry and Agriculture; Science and Technology; Radio and Electronics; Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; Optics; Transport; Public Education; Public Health; Sports; Construction; Culture; and Well-being of the people.” 14 The USSR display in New York was followed by the American National Exhibition, which opened in Moscow in July 1959; this was the site of the famous kitchen debate between Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The United States founded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, and four years later, in 1962, the NASA Art Program was established.15 The collection the NASA Art Program developed, much of it housed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, now comprises nearly three thousand works by 350 artists in a wide variety of media.16 Artists were first present for a launch in May 1963, when Mercury 9, the final mission of that program, lifted off. The government has long employed artists in military contexts; official


combat artists were busy during World War I and World War II. Their function, as well as that of the NASA Art Program, was, frankly, propagandistic. Administrators commissioned artists to portray all aspects of the American space program, sending them to visit NASA’s far-flung facilities in search of inspiration. Notable artists whose works became part of the NASA collection include Alexander Calder, Lamar Dodd, Peter Hurd, Lowell Nesbitt, Paul Sample, Dan Namingha, Vija Celmins, Robert Vickrey, Fletcher Martin, and Yvonne Jacquette.17 Because it was the first time man would walk on the moon, the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 was the program’s biggest event. More artists were commissioned to create works for the NASA Art Program, and additional locations to be recorded were added. Key sites were NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the dramatic liftoff took place; Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston; and the aircraft carrier that picked up the astronauts after they landed in the Pacific Ocean. Andy Warhol’s neon-bright silkscreen Moonwalk (1987) was inspired by Buzz Aldrin’s historic lunar steps. Paul Calle (1928–2010) designed the 1969 tencent airmail stamp commemorating the first man on the moon. Jamie Wyeth made the watercolor Gemini Launch Pad (1964), while Norman Rockwell’s Grissom and Young (1965) showed two astronauts suiting up for the Gemini 3 launch. Robert T. McCall (1919–2010), who devoted his career to portraying space exploration, designed several stamps, mission patches for astronauts, and murals for the National Air and Space Museum and the Johnson Space Center. His oil on canvas Apollo 8 Coming Home (1969) imagines the firing of the rocket engine to propel that spacecraft out of lunar orbit and back to Earth. Photographer Annie Leibovitz’s portrait Eileen Collins (1999) records the space program’s first woman Space Shuttle pilot (Discovery, 1995) and the first woman commander of a Space Shuttle mission (Columbia, 1999). Painter Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s large canvas Indian Science (2004) offers a Native American perspective. Photographer William Wegman took a less serious approach in Chip and Batty Explore Space (2001), in which his familiar Weimaraner dogs take the place of astronauts.

Earthrise: Apollo 11 Mission, View of Moon Limb, with Earth on the Horizon, Mare Smythii Region July 20, 1969 Photograph courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

USSR Exhibition of Science, Technology, and Culture New York Coliseum 1959 Image courtesy of Saul Zalesch


Many works in the collection are representational, but the NASA Art Program has also commissioned works by abstract and conceptual artists, including a video piece by Nam June Paik, Moon Is the Oldest TV (1999). In response to Apollo 1, Robert Rauschenberg produced thirty-three lithographs for his “Stoned Moon” series, including Sky Garden (1969); his Hot Shot (1983) chronicles a space-shuttle flight. Burned Retina (2000), by twin brothers Doug and Mike Starn, was inspired by the Solar Heliospheric Observatory mission to study the sun. One of the most moving sculptures in the collection is Remembering Columbia (2006). Chakaia Booker transformed twisting, shredded rubber tires from an earlier mission into a black star to honor the tragic destruction of the space shuttle upon reentry on February 1, 2003. Musical compositions commissioned by the NASA Art Program include performance artist Laurie Anderson’s The End of the Moon (2004), singer Patti LaBelle’s 2003 space-themed recording “Way Up There,” and Terry Riley’s composition “Sun Rings,” which was performed by the Kronos Quartet. Poet Ray Bradbury wrote an “Ode to NASA.” While the art program has been scaled back in recent years, artists are still being commissioned to make new work for the agency. Documenting American Industrial Archaeology There is a rich history of American documentary photography. The most notable documentary projects of the Depression era were sponsored by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and its successor, the Office of War Information (OWI). The Historic American Building Survey (HABS), founded in 1933, was another New Deal documentary project. While some industrial sites were photographed, they were not the primary focus of these agencies. It is the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), established in 1969, that particularly focuses on the sites and structures of engineering and industry and on the machinery and processes inside. In the midnineties, HAER did documentary projects related to the space program, a vivid reminder of how recent NASA’s history is, as well as of the speed of


technological change during this period.18 Their reports mix line drawings, HAER photographs, and archival images. Working with a large-format camera, Jet Lowe has undertaken many documentary assignments for HAER. During the summer of 1995, Lowe shot forty photographs at the Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Alabama, where the Saturn I test stand was among the structures he recorded. The Saturns, launched from 1961 to 1965, were rocket boosters bigger and more powerful than anything previously designed, and their purpose was to launch huge payloads into low Earth orbit. Lowe’s blackand-white image records the enormous structure from a head-on perspective. Intrigued by both the natural and engineered landscapes, New Mexico photographer Martin Stupich has made many images of American industrial subjects. Between 1991 and 1996 he produced a series of black-andwhite photographs of the launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.19 His eerie fragment of Launch Complex 34 (1991), through which a deserted vista is visible, conveys the melancholy of the site where the first astronaut fatalities occurred, in 1967. Stupich’s black-and-white print of the partial arc of the launch ring is a stark image. The launch ring and rocket stand at Launch Complex 34 were restored in the late 1990s. From this spot, a Saturn IB rocket propelled Apollo 7 into Earth orbit in October 1968. Documentation of the immense industrial artifacts from the space age, now rusted and worn examples of “Dead Tech,” allows an observer to look at the roots of twentieth-century space travel and exploration.20 Once at the cutting edge of engineering and scientific development, these now obsolete structures have become historic. As Rolf Steinberg has observed, “At the Cape where it all began, the past has begun already.” 21 Such remains not only speak eloquently of an emphasis and effort not since duplicated, but they also give viewers a glimpse of the urgency and importance of the technology and its time. It was an episode of heroic recent American history, steeped in the ambition, bravery, and patriotism of those wishing to explore distant worlds.

Jet Lowe Close-Up View Looking South at the Saturn I Static Test Stand, Marshall Space Flight Center, Saturn Propulsion and Structural Test Facility, East Test Area, Madison, Alabama 1995 Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HAER, reproduction number HAER ALA, 45-HUVI.V, 7D—2



Martin Stupich Launch Complex 34 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991 Photograph courtesy of Etherton Gallery, Tucson, Arizona

Acknowledgments Several individuals generously assisted me in the research of this essay, and I acknowledge them with gratitude: Daniel H. Ball (former data manager, Space Photography Laboratory, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University), Alison Doane (curator, Astronomical Photographs, Harvard College Observatory), Joseph E. B. Elliott (Muhlenberg College), Jet Lowe (Historic American Engineering Record), Patrick E. Martin (Michigan Technological University), Katharine Martinez (Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona), Richard O’Connor (chief, Heritage Documentation Programs, National Park Service), Jeremy Rowe (Arizona State University and the Daguerreian Society), Martin Stupich, Leonard Walle, Gerry Weinstein, and Saul Zalesch (Louisiana Tech University). Notes 1. Although NASA built the structures, they are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and they have reverted to US Air Force control. 2. The Society for Industrial Archeology was founded in 1971 (http://www.siaweb.org/). The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) was established in 1973. 3. Celina Fox, The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2009). 4. James L. Enyeart et al., Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley (Rochester, NY: George Eastman House, distributed by MIT Press, 1994) and Estelle Jussim, Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1987). In the twentieth century, many photographers remained strongly linked to science. Here are two examples: In 1958, Berenice Abbott (1898–1991), who was the photography editor for Science Illustrated, worked with MIT’s Physical Science Study Committee to produce a series of photographs to image “the laws and processes of physics.” Harold Edgerton (1903–1990), a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, pioneered multiflash stroboscopic equipment in his photographs. 5. Corey Kelly, ed., Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840–1900 (San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Art, in association with Yale University Press, 2008).

6. M. Susan Barger, “The Moon, 6 August 1851,” Annual Report for the Year 1989 (Middlebury, VT: Christian A. Johnson Gallery, Middlebury College, 1990), n.p. 7. In addition to Whipple’s moon daguerreotypes at Harvard, others by him are in the collections of the Christian A. Johnson Gallery at Middlebury College (1851) and the Science Museum in London (1850–1851). For more on Whipple, see Sally Pierce and William S. Johnson, Whipple and Black: Commercial Photographers in Boston (Boston, MA: Boston Athenaeum, distributed by Northeastern University Press, 1987). For astronomy and photography at Harvard University, see Dorrit Hoffleit, Some Firsts in Astronomical Photography (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Observatory, 1950) and Sara Schechner Genuth, “From Heaven’s Alarm to Public Appeal: Comets and the Rise of Astronomy at Harvard,” in Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspectives, ed. Clark A. Elliot and Margaret W. Rossiter (London: Associated University Presses, 1992), 28–54. For more on how these photographs were realized, see “Photography in the United States: The Moon Daguerreotyped,” New York Tribune, April 22, 1853, and John Werge, “Publicity and Progress: Rambles Among the Studios of America, 1853–1854,” in The Evolution of Photography (London: Piper & Carter, 1890), 47–54. For Whipple and the Langenheim brothers, see Gary W. Ewer, “The Daguerreotype: An Archive of Source Texts, Graphics, and Ephemera,” http://daguerreotypearchive.org/1880s. html. (Nineteenth-century publications referenced in this essay have come from this source, last accessed March 30, 2015.) 8. M. Grant, “John A. Whipple and the Daguerrean Art,” Photographic ArtJournal 2, no. 2 (August 1851): 94–95. 9. Henry Hunt Snelling, “Looking Back: Or, The Olden Days in Photography,” Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin 19, no. 18 (September 22, 1888): 559–63. 10. Whipple’s astronomical photographs may be seen on the website Daguerreotypes at Harvard, http://preserve.harvard.edu/daguerreotypes/. 11. For the Langenheims, see the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, last accessed March 30, 2015, http://www. metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2005.100.614a-g. The site explains some of the technical complexity of making these images: Although six other daguerreotypists and one calotypist are known to have documented the event, only these seven daguerreotypes survive. In the northern hemisphere, the moon always shadows the sun from right to left during a solar eclipse; these images therefore seem odd because they are, like all uncorrected


daguerreotypes, reversed laterally as in a mirror. It is noteworthy that these daguerreotypes are quite small, three exceptionally so. In order to produce any kind of image at all, the Langenheims were forced to use the smallest cameras available, since smaller cameras require proportionally less light and there was virtually no available light when the disk of the new moon eclipsed the largest part of the sun. The missing eighth image was probably made on the smaller plate size and showed nothing at all—a total eclipse.” 12. See John Christopher, Riding the Jetstream: The Story of Ballooning, from Montgolfier to Breitling (London: John Murray, 2001) and T. A. Heppenheimer, A Brief History of Flight: From Balloons to Mach 3 and Beyond (New York: Wiley, 2001). For a historical account of the connections between aviation and art, see Robert Wohl, A Passion for Wings: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1908–1918 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994). Contemporary artists have engaged this theme as well; see Huston Paschal and Linda Johnson Dougherty, Defying Gravity: Contemporary Art and Flight (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 2003). Posters relating to airplanes and flight are another subcategory. For instance, see Henry Serrano Villard and Willis M. Allen Jr., Looping the Loop: Posters of Flight (San Diego, CA: Kales Press, 2000) and Geza Szurovy, The Art of the Airways (St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press, 2002). 13. For an unusual view of the Soviet space program, see Adam Bartos, Kosmos: A Portrait of the Russian Space Age (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001). 14. Saul Zalesch, “USSR Exhibition, New York City,” EphemeraStudies.org, Louisiana Tech University, last accessed March 3, 2011, http://ephemerastudies.org/ gallery/ussr-exhibition-new-york-city-1959/. 15. NASA was formed from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), an agency founded in 1915, during World War I.


16. See James Dean and Bertram Ulrich, NASA/Art: 50 Years of Exploration (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2007); Roger D. Launius and Bertram Ulrich, NASA & The Exploration of Space: With Works from the NASA Art Collection (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998); and Hereward Lester Cooke et al., Eyewitness to Space: Paintings and Drawings Related to the Apollo Mission to the Moon, Selected, With a Few Exceptions, from the Art Program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1963–1969) (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1971). 17. Miller’s work is part of the NASA art collection, and his photographs of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station include Bolts, Complex 13; Missile Fuel, Complex 13; Flooded Room Beneath Pad 19; Electrical Panels, Complex 31; Support Building Wall, Complex 34; Launch Ring, Complex 34; Liquid Fuel Tank Support, Complex 37; and Blast Door, Complex 37. 18. For the history of HAER, see two thematic issues: “HAER: 30 Years of Recording Our Technological Heritage,” IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology 25, no. 1 (1999) and “Historic American Engineering Record: Thirty Years of Documenting America’s Technological History,” Cultural Resource Management 23, no. 4 (2000). Among the first HAER recording projects related to the space program were those of the Marshall Space Flight Center (1995, 1996) and the Langley Research Center (1995). 19. See Remnants of the First World: Looking Back on the Wondrous Now, Photographs by Martin Stupich (blurb.com, 2010) and the artist’s website, http:// www.martinstupich.com/ (last accessed March 30, 2015). 20. See “Early Sites of Space Travel: Cape Canaveral After Apollo,” in Manfred Hamm, Rolf Steinberg, and Robert Jungk, Dead Tech: A Guide to the Archaeology of Tomorrow (Santa Monica, CA: Hennessey & Ingalls, 2000), 103–118. 21. Ibid., 104.


First Steps


imilar to the way in which other wars set the stage for future hostilities, World War II set in motion the beginnings of the Cold War in the late 1940s. Much as dominance of the seas by navy and control of the skies by aircraft had decided the outcomes of earlier wars, Germany’s use of the V1 buzz bomb and, later, the V2 rocket to deliver warheads to England showed the world that rockets would soon determine success in conflict. The fact was not lost on the United States. Prior to World War II, most of the official government research into rocketry consisted of jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) and the development of antitank rockets for use with bazookas.1 American experiments with small rocket-delivered payloads had begun by 1944.2 After World War II ended, the United States became very involved in rocket technology. Postwar large-scale experiments were conducted using captured V2 rockets. These rockets were initially launched from White Sands Proving Ground (now known as the White Sands Missile Range) in New Mexico, and they were later launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The importance of this technology was so great that the military used a shotgun approach to ensure the development of a successful rocket system. The military experimented with numerous types and designs of rockets simultaneously. Included in this missile development were intermediaterange ballistic missiles (IRBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).3 In 1949 the Joint Long Range Proving Ground, now known as the Eastern Test Range, was created. This launch test area began at Cape

Canaveral and stretched southeast over the Atlantic Ocean. It gave the US Air Force, Army, and Navy a launch facility with equatorial orbit capabilities and an open-water downrange, for safety in case of aborted or misguided launch attempts. Cape Canaveral became the focus of the Air Force’s efforts to develop surface-to-surface and surface-to-air rockets. The majority of these early development efforts consisted of aerodynamic (winged) rockets, with names including Matador, Mace, Lark, Falcon, Rascal, Shrike, Bomarc, Snark, and Navaho. Several of these rocket systems, such as the Navaho, failed to meet the program’s overall objectives, but important data were gained and technology invented through their development.4 In hindsight, it might seem wasteful to have poured resources into these aerodynamic rockets when ballistic missiles such as Thor, Redstone, Minuteman, Atlas, and Titan were on the horizon. At the time, however, there was no guarantee that these wingless rockets would work effectively enough to achieve operational status. I have visited many of the abandoned launch facilities from the early, unmanned rocket programs. Cape Canaveral’s Complex 9, the winged Navaho rocket’s launch site, was for years overgrown with wild grape vines. Canaveral’s Mace launch complex, with its twin launch ramps and giant exhaust tunnels, had also been overtaken by foliage by the time of my early visits. Complex 9 was later repainted, and the brush was cleared away.



Launch Pad and Gantry with Hermes A-1 Rocket V2 Launch Complex 33 White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 2006

Blockhouse View of Launch Pad and Gantry V2 Launch Complex 33 White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 2006


Nature has a way of reminding us of her relentless capacity to reclaim these launch pads. Vines grow in cracked cement, widening and eroding the fissures. Trees, mostly invasive Brazilian peppers, surround structures and force open doors with their rapid growth. Cape Canaveral’s abandoned sites require a consistent effort of landscape maintenance to hold back the relentless growth of Florida’s flora. Complex 31/32 is one deactivated Cape Canaveral launch site from the 1960s that stands apart from the others. Complex 31/32 was a test-launch facility for Minuteman missiles. From a distance, it is not impressive. It consists of a large, flat field with two “beehive” blockhouses (shielded on the exterior with cement “sandbags”), several low cement slabs covering two independent launch silos and their access hatches, and two separate surface launch pads linked to their respective silos. That is all that is visible. What makes Complex 31/32 notable are the recovered remains of the Space Shuttle Challenger, buried in the two silos. The awareness that the technological remnants of one of the twentieth century’s most dramatic and tragic events are interred in these underground launch facilities transfigures Complex 31/32 into hallowed ground. The cement slabs covering the silos become sarcophagus lids, the meadow a high-tech graveyard. I doubt that any of the engineers and technicians who worked at this Cold War proving ground could have imagined the revered role Complex 31/32 would play in


the history of human space exploration. No marker or monument signals the significance of these silos, now crowned with concrete to keep out the world. If this is not poignant enough, then nature has a way of reinforcing such poignancy. On a visit to photograph Complex 31/32 in 2005, my security escort, Johnny Johnson, and I witnessed seven snowy egrets feeding in the grass near Complex 31’s silo. They foraged slowly as we approached and scattered when our presence appeared to be a threat. I immediately thought of the seven Challenger crewmembers. The snowy egret, among other interpretations and meanings, is a symbol of exploration. Nature has a way of reminding us. The images in this chapter portray the abandoned launch and test facilities associated with the early unmanned rocket programs. Notes 1. Roger E. Bilstein, Testing Aircraft, Exploring Space: An Illustrated History of NACA and NASA (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 34–36. 2. “JPL Early History, War Time,” Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology, accessed March 27, 2015, http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ jplhistory/early/wartime.php. 3. Mark C. Cleary, The 6555th: Missile and Space Launches Through 1970 (45th Space Wing History Office, 1991). 4. Ibid.

Stairway Navaho Launch Complex 9 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1990



Superstructure Navaho Launch Complex 9 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1990

Mace Launch Ramp Launch Complex 21 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1990



Electrical Panels Minuteman Missile Launch Complex 31 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Minuteman Missile Silo Triptych, Space Shuttle Challenger Burial Site Launch Complex 31 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005



Blockhouse Polaris Launch Complex 29 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993

SCOUT ACCOUNTABILITY BOARD Launch Area 3A NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia 1997



Emergency Shower Launch Area 3A NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia 1997

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Sam Beddingfield, Mercury Program Mechanical Engineer Launch Complex 14 Mercury Atlas Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1998 Sam worked on all three early manned programs: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. At the time of his retirement from NASA in 1985, he was the deputy director of Space Shuttle Operations. Sam escorted me to Mercury Atlas Launch Complex 14 a few months before John Glenn’s Space Shuttle flight. For the occasion, he brought his original Mercury program hardhat.



Mercury Redstone/Atlas


n the mid-1950s the United States’ X-planes series and U2 spy plane program initially gave Americans the upper hand in high-altitude flight research and covert intelligence. All of that changed in 1957, when the USSR launched Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit Earth. America’s space-research efforts appeared to be lagging dramatically. When the USSR launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1 in 1961, Gagarin was not only the first human to fly in space; he was also the first to orbit Earth. America had been bested again. It was up to the Mercury program and its seven brave astronauts to restore America’s standing in the race for space dominance. Two Mercury Redstone suborbital flights (1961) occurred before America put its first man into orbit, on February 20, 1962, when John Glenn lifted off on an Atlas rocket. It would take years for America to surpass visibly the USSR’s space efforts, but NASA’s steady, methodic approach eventually won the race. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station would play a lead role in this adventure. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is located on a barrier island—known as Cape Canaveral—midway down Florida’s east coast. The Air Force station runs from just north of Port Canaveral up around the actual geographic cape, to just south of a false cape. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east. To the west is the Banana River, a brackish lagoon that is a part of the larger Indian River Lagoon. The Kennedy Space Center, situated west and north of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, was originally known as the Merritt Island Launch Annex

(MILA). It is located on the north portion of Merritt Island—which is sandwiched between the Banana River on the east and the Indian River to the west—and on the part of Cape Canaveral north of the station. Another portion of the Kennedy Space Center is located on is a spit of land north of Merritt Island, which eventually separates the Indian River from Mosquito Lagoon. The lagoon begins a few miles north of Launch Complex 39B, at the north end of the space center. Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River are a part of the Intracoastal Waterway system. To the east of the lagoon, and also beginning just north of Complex 39B on the ocean, is Cape Canaveral National Seashore, a narrow barrier dune island north of the space center and Air Force station portions of Cape Canaveral. There are two launch complexes at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that serviced the Mercury program for manned launches: Complex 5 and Complex 14. Complex 5 was the Mercury Redstone launch facility and the site of both Alan Shepard’s inaugural Mercury Redstone flight, Freedom 7, and Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 mission. These two flights were suborbital, because of the Redstone’s lesser thrust capabilities. It required the more powerful Atlas rocket to boost the Mercury capsule high and fast enough to attain orbit. All four manned Mercury Atlas flights were launched from Launch Complex 14 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission, the first manned orbital flight launched by the United States, was also the first manned Mercury Atlas flight.



Redstone Rocket Redstone Launch Complex 26 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993

Liberty Bell 7 Capsule under Restoration Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center 2000

Telemetry Receivers, Strip Chart Recorders, and Tape Recorders Redstone Launch Complex 26 Blockhouse Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2000



Plug Board Redstone Launch Complex 26 Blockhouse Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2000

Scott Carpenter in Aurora 7, Wally Schirra in Sigma 7, and Gordon Cooper in Faith 7 followed Glenn’s flight. Deke Slayton’s planned Delta 7 mission never took place; Slayton was grounded by a heart murmur, although he was eventually cleared to fly on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Nothing remains of the original Launch Complex 5 at Cape Canaveral but the paved apron and blockhouse. A mockup of a Mercury Redstone rocket is set up on the pad, as if ready for launch. Mercury Atlas Launch Complex 14 has been mostly dismantled. The launch ramp and a portion of the pad structure still remain. The launch ramp has been reinforced with steel I beams, because the original I beams were rusting away and the ramp was beginning to sag. There is a monument commemorating Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission near the base of the ramp. What was once one of the most important pieces of real estate in America now slowly succumbs to the coastal weather and harsh Florida sun. I had the opportunity to photograph Complex 14 shortly before Glenn’s return to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998. The blockhouse had been converted for use as a conference center. At the time of my visit, all that remained of the launch structure (besides the ramp) were sheared-off I-beam roots and piping sunk in concrete. Beneath the ramp was a room with a blast door. Cable conduit, used to carry wiring, was set in the cement walls of the ramp structure. An obviously newer and more well-maintained building, for storing hypergolic fuels, had been added just to the east of the north end of the ramp. Access to Complex 14 was limited throughout most of the 1990s because of this hypergolic fuel storage facility; hypergolic fuels, designed to combust on contact with an oxidizer, are corrosive and lethally toxic. The hazardous fuels were removed in the year before Glenn’s Space Shuttle mission. Up to that point, there was no access to the pad ramp and remaining foundations. My security escort was Sam Beddingfield, whom I had met at an Apollo 1 memorial service at Complex 34 in January 1996. Sam was intensely involved in the Mercury program and every manned program that followed, including the Space Shuttle program. He described to me the launch facility in its heyday. He spoke of the hundreds of workers involved and the dedication with which every person approached his or her work on Project Mercury. Sam said

that this dedication was driven by an unspoken knowledge of what the program meant to the nation in the midst of the Cold War. He brought along his original Mercury program hardhat—a unique artifact from those early days of space flight. Launch Complexes 5 and 14 were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in September 1984. Along with these seminal launch sites, there are a number of other Atlas launch complexes lining the coast of Cape Canaveral. Launch Complexes 11, 12, and 13 played crucial roles in testing the Atlas rocket and launching satellites. All nine Ranger probes designed to photograph the moon were launched from Atlas Complex 12. Complex 13, also included on the National Register of Historic Places, was the launch site of all five Lunar Orbiter missions. The Lunar Orbiter sent back the first orbital images of the moon and helped to map and determine the Apollo lunar landing sites. Atlas Complex 13 was also known as Complex X because of the number of secret payloads launched from the facility. Complex 13 was the most intact deactivated launch complex until its mobile service structure and launch umbilical tower were demolished in 2005. The blockhouse was demolished in 2012. The twin launch pads of Atlas Complex 36, A and B, launched a total of 145 Atlas and Atlas Centaur rockets between 1962 and 2005. Pioneer, Surveyor, and Mariner missions, among many others, lifted off from Complex 36. Complex 36’s launch umbilical and mobile service towers were demolished in 2007. The Redstone and Atlas rockets were two of the most successful launch vehicles created during the early period of ballistic missile development and space exploration. Both of these missiles were initially intended to carry warheads, not astronauts. The Redstone missile served as both a suborbital Mercury launch vehicle and a short-range ballistic missile, while the Atlas rocket served as the launch vehicle for orbital manned Mercury missions, numerous scientific payloads, and exploratory missions. The Atlas missile also played a defensive role as an intercontinental ballistic missile. Shepard’s Freedom 7 Mercury Redstone and Glenn’s Friendship 7 Mercury Atlas missions are two of the outstanding events in the history of the US space program. Launch Complexes 5 and 14, along with the related test and processing facilities around the country, made these pioneering space missions possible.



Atlas Rocket Air Force Space and Missile Museum Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993



Mercury Redstone Rocket Mockup, with Blockhouse 5/6 in the Background Launch Complex 5 Mercury Redstone Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2011

Launch Stand Ramp and Remains Launch Complex 14 Mercury Atlas Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1998



Detail, NASA Logo Mercury Mission Control Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2009

ABANDONED IN PLACE Atlas Launch Complex 11 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991



Sunrise Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992

Mobile Service Tower Rollback, AC-78, One Hundredth Atlas-Centaur Launch Atlas Launch Complex 36B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1996



Bolts Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Blockhouse Entrance Tunnel Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2010



MISSILE FUEL Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992

Gantry Control Booth Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



GROUND Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Detail, Gantry Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991



Gantry, Launch Umbilical Tower, and Ramp Atlas Launch Complex 13 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



Mobile Service Tower Doors Atlas Launch Complex 36B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005

Mobile Service Tower Platforms Atlas Launch Complex 36B Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005


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Research Facilities


one of the successes of the early manned space program could have been accomplished without the testing infrastructure that was developed to support the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Static rocket engine test stands, wind tunnels, and other facilities allowed for the testing of rockets and training of astronauts in controlled environments. Static Rocket Engine Test Stands Static rocket engine test stands were used to test the engines of rockets without actually launching them. There are test stands at a number of NASA, military, and private commercial facilities around the country. These include the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and Edwards Air Force Base and Boeing’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory (formerly operated by Rocketdyne) in California. There are two main designs of static rocket engine test stands. In the mostly flat southeastern United States, they are large structures, sometimes topping more than three hundred feet in height. This height is required to allow enough distance between the engine’s nozzle and the flame deflector, to prevent heat and exhaust from interfering with the operation of the engine. In California and New Mexico, the test stands are often perched on the sides of mountains or the top ledges of narrow canyons. The flame deflector hangs over the side of the mountain or the edge of the canyon,

suspended down into the valley or canyon. This allows for the same distancing of the flame deflectors from the engines being tested as in the tall structures in the Southeast. The mountain- or canyon-perch design reduces the size of the support structure that must be built. I had the opportunity to witness a test firing of a Space Shuttle main engine at the Stennis Space Center in 1996, and of an Atlas engine at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1998. With most rocket launches, the intense flames and sound are normally over in a minute. Rocket engine test firings differ from rocket launches in one dramatic way: the engine stays put and roars for up to ten minutes. The constant growl is a bit nerve-racking, and yet it is mesmerizing at the same time. Cooled with water, the flaming thrust looks more like steam than fire. I am always escorted by a NASA, Air Force, or contractor public affairs official when I photograph these test stands. One of the aspects of working with the public affairs staff that I have come to appreciate is their desire to please and yet maintain protocol and safety restrictions. Unlike the abandoned and deactivated launch pads I photograph, most of these test stands that served the early manned space programs have now been repurposed to test new rocket engines. They are active sites, with dangerous equipment and hazardous fuels. As I previously stated, the test stands can reach over three hundred feet in height. I always ask my public affairs escort if we can go up to the next level of a structure or into a more interior space. This leads to what I like


to refer to as the “public affairs stutter.” Typically, my escort will say something to the effect of, “Well, um, ah, I’m not sure. I’ll need to check with the site administrator and see if we’ll be allowed to go up there.” These public affairs minders are doing their job and doing it properly. Their main charge is to make sure that I do not hurt myself or anyone else and, maybe more important, that I do not damage equipment or even a rocket engine. I always ask about going higher on a structure within earshot of the NASA employees who work in the facility. They inevitably interrupt and say, “Oh sure, you folks can go up to that level, but you should really see the very top level.” And then they point to the uppermost level of the test stand, which is a hundred feet higher than the level I was asking about. I count on this response. I know that the workers will intervene, because I have never met a NASA employee who did not relish his or her job and the amazing facilities and fantastic technology with which the employees work. NASA workers love to share their experiences with visitors. They will stop what they are doing and generously answer questions. On a couple of occasions, my photography has been hampered a bit by NASA workers’ eagerness to show me around or


explain their work, when I just wanted to start photographing. And the truth is, I didn’t mind. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Where else can you have someone explain firsthand how the system on a rocket, spaceship, or space station he or she designed, built, inspected, or maintained actually works? In 1996 my friend Rick Walsh was assisting me as I photographed at the Stennis Space Center, when we witnessed the Space Shuttle main engine test firing. The next day, we were photographing up on the B-1/B-2 Test Stand, where the test firing had occurred. While we were on the stand (and it is a massive structure with many levels and two separate test bays), we heard someone announce over the public address system, “Will somebody please bring Bubba the data from yesterday’s test firing, please bring Bubba the data from yesterday’s firing.” A few minutes later, we met Bubba—Bubba the rocket scientist! Bubba was wearing a camouflage jacket and jeans, and, as usual, he graciously showed us the Space Shuttle main engine, which was still in place on the test stand. Bubba described to Rick and me the major parts and functions of the engine and the testing procedures that occurred when the engine was fired. It was clear that Bubba loved his job of working with rocket engines.

Canyon Runoff Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Boeing Facility, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California 1998

Saturn Propulsion and Structural Test Facility, East Test Area NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama 1993



Overview Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Edwards Air Force Base, California 1998



Detail Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Edwards Air Force Base, California 1998

Catacombs Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Edwards Air Force Base, California 1998



Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Tank and Joshua Tree Edwards Air Force Base, California 1998

Pressure Gauge Panel Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Test Stand Boeing Facility, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, California 1998



Blockhouse 500,000-Pound Static Test Stand White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 2006

Fuel Tank 500,000-Pound Static Test Stand White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico 2006



Twin Flame Deflectors B-1/B-2 Test Stand NASA Stennis Space Center, Mississippi 1996

Wind Tunnels Wind tunnels, much like static rocket engine test stands, are used to test and design automobiles, aircraft, and spaceships in a controlled environment. There are four classes of wind tunnels: subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. As the name indicates, subsonic wind tunnels push air at less than the speed of sound—less than Mach 1. Transonic wind tunnels provide wind speeds for testing that can transition between subsonic and supersonic, or from below to just above Mach 1. Supersonic wind tunnels test airframes at wind speeds above the speed of sound. Hypersonic wind tunnels operate at air speeds above Mach 5.1 In 1997 I was fortunate to photograph the 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel, along with other wind tunnels at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The tunnel was built in 1931 to test aircraft, and it was later used to test the aerodynamics of space capsules at subsonic levels. As its name implies, the 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel was originally designed to test full-size airplanes.2 It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1985. The tunnel was in service until 2009, but, sadly, it was demolished in 2011. The structure was quite unique and was, for a time, the largest wind tunnel in existence in the world. Like many of the early space-related test and research facilities, the 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel outlived its usefulness; more modern wind tunnels with newer technologies allowed for more precise testing. As with many of the historic facilities used in the race to space, the costs to repair, maintain, and heat and cool the outdated and unused structure exceeded NASA’s fiscal ability to preserve it for history’s sake. The 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel was a work of art. The tunnel consisted of a test section, where the aircraft or space capsule was located. Just behind the test section was the main throat, or opening, leading to two giant fans, which sucked the air past the test aircraft or capsule to simulate wind speed. The throat of the tunnel was gracefully curved and made of

wood. It was a thing of beauty. Its organic shape brought to mind the mouth of a sea creature. The fans themselves displayed an art deco aeronautical styling that reminded me of the riveted aluminum-skin airplanes of the mid-twentieth century. Each fan was more than thirty feet in diameter. The return airways were cavernous tunnels, which wrapped 180 degrees back around the portion of the building containing the test section, throat, and fans. The outer walls of the airways formed the east and west outside walls of the building. The airways then wrapped back another 180 degrees and fed into a cone, which concentrated the air and fed it across the test aircraft or capsule in the test section, to be sucked back through the fans in the same cycle over and over again. When I was photographing the tunnel, I encountered pigeons living in the airways, thanks to the less-than-perfect sealing of the exterior walls. When you consider that the 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel was built a mere twenty-eight years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight, in 1903, its nearly eighty years of service for government and private research is a remarkable legacy. If there are still any skeptics out there who think we faked the moon landings, I can say—based on the wind tunnels, test stands, vacuum chambers, lunar-landing training facilities, and other structures I have personally visited related to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs—that if we did fake it, we sure went to an awful lot of trouble building and using these amazing structures. Notes 1. Donald D. Baals and William R. Corliss, Wind Tunnels of NASA (Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1981), 49–73. 2. Ibid., 23.



Twin Fans 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997



Airway 30- by 60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997

Fan Motor Housing 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997



Wind Tunnel Test Chamber with Model 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997

Exterior Support Transonic Wind Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997



Airway Piping 8-Foot Transonic Pressure Tunnel NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997

Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo Test Models Spin Test Tunnel Office NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997



Gantry Support and Foundation Lunar Landing Research Facility NASA Langley Research Center, Virginia 1997

Door 120-Foot Vacuum Chamber A NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas 1996



Solar Simulator and 120-Foot Vacuum Chamber A NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas 1996

Dynamic Test Stand NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama 1994


Twins Harold and Carold Collins Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2000 Harold and Carold Collins both worked for NASA during the 1960s. Harold worked in janitorial services, and Carold was an aide to Dr. Kurt Debus, director of Kennedy Space Center Launch Operations. Harold and Carold represent the hundreds of thousands of individuals who dedicated themselves to the goal of getting America to the moon.



Gemini Titan


he Gemini program was aptly named; two astronauts flew the spacecraft to space and back. The program existed as the middle project in the trinity of America’s early manned space efforts: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Gemini lacked both Mercury’s drama of being the first program to put Americans in space and Apollo’s excitement of landing humans on the moon. But what Gemini lacked in public relations value it more than made up for in substantive research. The goal of the Gemini program was to develop hardware and prove technical abilities that would be necessary to reach the moon with Apollo— and, more important, to return spacecraft safely to Earth. Orbital rendezvous and docking with target spacecraft, spacewalking, extended space flights (with missions lasting up to two weeks), and many other serious objectives were achieved through the Gemini program. Twelve successful Gemini Titan missions were launched from Complex 19 on Cape Canaveral, with ten of them consisting of manned Gemini spacecraft. Men from the first three classes of astronauts flew on Gemini. Most of them would fly on Apollo missions as well, and many would become legends through the Apollo program. Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, and Wally Schirra were original Mercury 7 astronauts who would go on to participate in Gemini. Schirra became the only astronaut to fly on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. To a casual observer, it would be easy to consider the Gemini program

a stepping-stone project, only spanning the gap between Mercury and Apollo while the larger and more powerful family of Saturn rockets was developed. In fact, some involved in the programs made the argument that NASA should move directly from Mercury to Apollo.1 However, without the developments and achievements of Gemini, landing on the moon might never have been possible. The technical and engineering developments of Gemini, coupled with the skills the astronauts acquired through the Gemini missions, were absolutely invaluable to the success of Apollo. Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 19 was originally an Air Force Titan I launch facility. A total of fifteen Titan I launches occurred at Complex 19. The facility was transferred to NASA in 1962. The launch complex was modified for the Gemini program and the Titan II rocket; the main elements of the remodeled facility were a blockhouse, launch-pad ramp, test umbilical tower, umbilical tower, and hinged vehicle erector.2 The erector was hinged at the base, near the launch ring that held the Titan II in place once erected. Shortly before launch, the erector was lowered to its horizontal position. Opposite the hinge, at the other end of the erector, the top sections contained the White Room, a “clean room” where the astronauts were inserted into the Gemini capsule in preparation for launch. A long cable tunnel ran from the pad superstructure back to the blockhouse. Along with housing cables, this tunnel allowed access from the blockhouse vicinity to the pad.


Launch Complex 19 was decommissioned shortly after the final Gemini Titan mission, in 1967. In 1988 nothing remained of the complex’s structures but the blockhouse, cable tunnel, launch ramp, erector, flame deflector, and theodolite tracking building (used to track the Titan II rocket’s ascent). The theodolite building was demolished sometime in the mid-1990s. In 2003, the White Room was cut out of the erector and moved to the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for restoration and display. The remaining erector segment and flame deflector were demolished in late 2012 and early 2013. They had deteriorated to the point of collapse. Along with Complex 19, Complexes 15 and 16 were also Titan I and II launch facilities. Like the Redstone and Atlas rockets of the Mercury program, the Titans were originally designed to deliver warhead payloads. Titans, which were operational intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), were deployed in silos around the western United States. In 1995 I visited and photographed Titan Missile Silo 395-C at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to gain an understanding of the silo configuration from which these ICBM missiles were designed to be launched. At the time of my visit, Launch Complex 395-C was decommissioned and capped, in accordance with arms-reduction treaties. Both the Titan and Atlas ICBM series had been replaced with more stable, lower-maintenance, solid-fuel Peacekeeper and Minuteman missiles. The Gemini Titan Complex 19 was the first deactivated launch facility I visited. It was already beginning to rust and weather away by 1988. By the time of my first visit to that complex, twenty-one years had passed since the last Gemini Titan rocket had been launched from it. I immediately realized that the only way to preserve these important ruins was through photography. I had experience that would prove beneficial as I documented this site and the other deactivated launch facilities. My graduate school studies had included photography projects documenting abandoned and dilapidated houses on ranches and in the rural towns of northern Utah and southeastern Idaho. Similar to my accidental exposure to the old launch pads, my photography of these idle houses had been serendipitous. The main thesis of my


work in graduate school was on color landscape photography and stretching the acceptable limits of the color palette, based on “color correctness.” I had been playing with and pushing the color balance of the images I created, to see what viewers would accept as real or accurate color in an image. I had stumbled across a number of these abandoned houses while exploring the landscapes of rural Utah and Idaho. They told a story of the local culture, aesthetics, and technology from the early to mid-1900s. The paints, wallpapers, and floor coverings described the limited selection available at the local sundry stores. The commonality of these materials was matched by the uniformity of the lath-and-plaster walls and wide wood-trim details. Woodstove flues hinted at the harsh living conditions in those remote areas at the time the houses were constructed.3 From this experience of exploring and photographing abandoned homes, I knew that the challenge in photographing the old launch sites would be to document them in a way that would tell an insightful yet literal story of their history while avoiding the sentimental or nostalgic. I had always been interested in approaching a subject by juxtaposing documentary (or factual) and abstract styles. My favorite assignment to give my photography students was to have them photograph the same subject from both concrete and abstract viewpoints. I decided that this approach could be the solution to telling a more complete and comprehensive account of these unique space-related facilities. In 1990 Complex 19 had a good bit of its original structure, though the umbilical tower had been removed. When I first photographed at Complex 19, it was possible to walk the length of the erector from top to bottom and view the rocket thrust mounts, four arms that held the rocket in place—over the launch ring and flame deflector—prior to launch. I noticed that the industrial lights lining the erector were almost all intact, including their light bulbs. They now pointed to the north instead of down, because the erector had been left in the horizontal position after the last Gemini launch. Over the years, as I photographed the erector, I used the condition of these lights as a metric to gauge the structure’s decay. I could also count the number of remaining corrugated steel panels lining the east and west sides of the erector, another measure of the erector’s state of deterioration.

Flame Deflector, Launch Ring, and Erector Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2011



Launch Ramp Tunnel Titan Launch Complex 15 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Empty Launch Silo Titan II ICBM Silo 395-C Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 1995



Launch Control Room Titan II ICBM Silo 395-C Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 1995

Rocket Fuel Handler Suit Titan II ICBM Silo 395-C Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 1995


The ramp leading up to the launch pad surface at Complex 19 had a tunnel running perpendicular through it, allowing technicians and engineers to access the other side without having to walk all the way around the structure. On one occasion, when I was there to photograph, a welded steel access plate on an interior wall of the tunnel had come off. I took advantage of the opportunity to check out the inside of the north end of the pad ramp. The room I peered into was about twenty feet across and sixty feet long. It had a steel floor with a ten-inch cement ledge running around the perimeter. The opening was only about two-by-two feet. I carefully crawled through it and stood on the cement ledge. The roof had numerous small holes along with a substantial opening, so there was a good bit of light in the space. I took my tripod and tapped on the steel floor—lightly. I could hear rusted metal fall into the substructure, which obviously contained water. I decided that it would be best not to try to walk on the steel floor; I could see a large opening in the floor at the far end of the room, to my left. I skirted delicately along the ten-inch ledge until I could see into the substructure. It was full, almost to the bottom of the metal floor, with green-tinted water. Submerged in the water were what looked like hydraulic equipment and a portion of a stairway. There was a large, rectangular, rusted orange steel column rising up through the water. I gingerly set up my tripod on the metal floor, maintaining a tight grip on my cable release the whole time. I made several exposures of the column, looking down through the water. I edged carefully back out, no worse for wear. When I saw the negative, I knew I had a special image. What I could not have predicted was the series of swirling, white reflections that looked like little galaxies in the water. The image fit my criteria of being a document of the technology and structure, yet abstractly hinting at the purpose and significance of the building.


In the mid-1990s I discovered that two of the custodians who worked at my college were retired space workers. Harold and Carold Collins worked for the space program during the height of the early missions. Harold worked in custodial services, and Carold was an aide to Kurt Debus, the first director of the Kennedy Space Center. When they learned of my interest in the early space program, both Harold and Carold were eager to share their knowledge and experiences. Their stories reminded me again of the selfless dedication I had heard of so often, from the men and women who worked on the initial space exploration projects. The long hours, the often six- or even seven-day workweeks, and the high stakes of their mission took a tremendous toll on the workers and on their families. Harold and Carold’s humble approach to their part in the history of space exploration was moving. I wanted to make their portrait at one of the deactivated launch sites. As Harold and Carold are twins, I could think of no more appropriate background than the Gemini Titan Launch Complex. To me, Harold and Carold represent the sacrifices made by the innumerable workers who gave so much, and who spent their careers endeavoring to get the United States to the moon first. Notes 1. Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox, Apollo: Race to the Moon (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989), 291. 2. R. W. Powell, Activation Plan for Launch Complex 19 and the Launch Vehicle Support Area, vol. 1 (Baltimore, MD: Martin Company, 1962), 6–9, http://www.dtic. mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=AD0424725. 3. Roland Miller, “Applications of Color Theory to the Color Negative Process through Manipulation” (master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1983), 17.

Horizontal Gantry from Base Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991



Horizontal Gantry from Top, White Room Removed Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005

Flooded Room beneath Pad 19 Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



Rocket Thrust Mounts Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Flame Deflector Safety Net Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991



Theodolite Dome Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Cable Tunnel Launch Complex 19 Gemini Titan Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993



Launch Pad and Support Building Titan Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005


Full Circle with the Cape’s Mighty Launch Pads 40 and 41 Craig Covault


he fifty-year evolution of Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Launch Pads 40 and 41 mirrors the decades of change in US military and civilian space programs at the eastern test range. As historic as the NASA Project Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle pads are, none has seen as many programs come and go as has the massive US Air Force twin-pad facility, developed in the early 1960s as an integrate-transfer-launch (ITL) facility. These pads are better known as Launch Complexes 40 and 41. Their massive umbilical and mobile service towers served for thirty to forty years, from the early 1960s until the time when major new rocket systems (one of them commercial) called for different support infrastructure at both pads. The northernmost pad, Launch Complex 41, had its service structures demolished in 1999 for the new Atlas V, powered by a Russian engine. Complex 40 was reduced to a flat pad in 2008 for the even newer commercial SpaceX Falcon 9.1 Back in the early 1960s, at the same time that the Kennedy Space Center Saturn V moon pads were being built, the Air Force was building the ITL site just five miles south. The Air Force hoped that the ITL would become home to an equally active manned military space program. The simultaneous development in the early 1960s of the NASA and US Air Force manned space infrastructures was one of the larger US federal construction initiatives of the twentieth century. Decisions by the late secretary of defense Robert S. McNamara (who served from 1961 to 1968) were pivotal to the first ten years

of ITL operations, as Kennedy Space Center’s Spaceport gobbled huge tracts of swampland and budget dollars. Few people realize that there was a Cold War synergy in the two developments.2 NASA’s Apollo manned lunar missions off Pads 39A and B were meant to counter the Soviets by winning the hearts and minds of people around the world. Conversely, the planned Air Force manned missions off Pads 40 and 41 were meant to counter the USSR militarily. These facilities were intended to provide launch capabilities for reconnaissance and deterrence as part of an ambitious campaign of unmanned national security space missions, starting in the mid-1960s. The launch pads also demonstrated the potential to support the deployment of spacecraft for US Air Force manned space attacks against Soviet space assets. Before the pads, however, came the design and development of both the spacecraft and the payloads that these spacecraft would carry into orbit. In the case of the ITL, the spacecraft was the US Air Force/Boeing X-20 DynaSoar, which would carry a single military astronaut.3 Conceived by the Air Force and its contractors in 1957, Dyna-Soar was to be a five-and-a-half-ton, thirty-five-foot-long spaceplane with a twenty-foot delta wing span. These figures are very close to those of the Chinese Shenlong spaceplane, which began atmospheric drop and hypersonic transatmospheric flight in 2011.4 Dyna-Soar (short for “dynamic soaring”) was initially conceived as a vehicle that could skip across the upper atmosphere. However, it quickly morphed


into an orbital vehicle. It had a small payload bay atop the fuselage to deploy satellites and fire weapons at Soviet satellites, or to drop four-thousandpound bombs on Soviet ground targets. According to a history of the X-20 compiled by the Aerospace Corporation, “Whether it [the X-20] was a research vehicle, a military space system, or a combination of the two was always a divisive issue within the Defense Department. . . . Despite these differences, many in the Air Force viewed the Dyna-Soar as their best hope for ultimately acquiring a manned USAF presence in space.” 5 Although Boeing was the primary contractor, Aerospace Corporation led many aspects of the program, including the design of a large new launch vehicle that could send the spaceplane into orbit. An initial plan to use two-stage Titan II ballistic missiles to launch X-20s on suborbital flights was quickly scrapped, in favor of going directly to orbital flights. Those would require a much more powerful launcher.6 Aerospace Corporation proposed adding two powerful five-segment solid rocket boosters to a Titan II core. The solids would ignite at liftoff for an initial thrust of 2.3 million pounds (430,000 pounds of thrust were normally used for a Titan II liftoff), until separation would take place at a thirty-mile altitude. There, the Titan II original first-stage core would ignite its Aerojet LR87 liquid-propellant engine. The ascent into low Earth orbit would then be completed with the Titan’s regular second stage. For unmanned payloads to higher orbits, an upper stage would be used. When the Air Force approved the Aerospace Corporation concept, the Titan III was born. The die was cast for the Air Force’s largest facility, at Cape Canaveral. The Air Force formally approved the development of the twin pad site on July 20, 1962—exactly seven years to the day before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the surface of the moon. Armstrong was initially selected as an X-20 pilot. But in 1963 Defense Secretary McNamara killed the Dyna-Soar program. He believed that it lacked a definitive mission. (NASA then selected Armstrong as an Apollo astronaut.) At the same time that McNamara terminated the X-20, he announced the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program, which made even more specific use of Titan III design capabilities. McNamara’s fateful decision about the use of Launch Complexes 40 and 41 not only sent Armstrong to the moon, but it also later


created what would become the core of astronauts who flew during the first several years of Space Shuttle program operations.7 MOL’s mission was secret, but for public consumption, it was presented as using a Gemini spacecraft attached to a silo-shaped space laboratory, which would be manned by two astronauts. They would enter and exit the lab through a hatch cut into the Gemini’s heat shield, and they would return laboratory experiment results by pulling them into the Gemini through the same hatch, which would be sealed before reentry. Two Gemini spacecraft were built with large hatches cut through their heat shields, and one actually flew unmanned twice, atop Titan launchers. One of those modified Gemini flights was suborbital (with the rest of the Titan deploying small payloads into orbit). That spacecraft is on display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral. The other spacecraft, Gemini B, was used for ground testing but was not flown. It is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. MOL’s real mission, however, was manned strategic reconnaissance for the supersecret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), where it was designated the KH-10. Seven of the Defense Department’s MOL astronauts, who later piloted Space Shuttle missions, spent hours training in pressure suits underwater to simulate transferring film canisters from the lab to the Gemini. MOL’s first manned flight on a Titan IIIM that had been modified to carry a laboratory and a Gemini was originally scheduled for 1969. It was then pushed to 1971, but it never flew. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird canceled the program in late 1969. Costs had exceed one billion dollars, and the new unmanned Lockheed KH-11 electro-optical reconnaissance satellite, which could resolve detail on the ground down to five inches, was expected to outpace the more complex manned system. A duplicate Titan III and Titan IV integrate-transfer-launch facility at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base made the launch of the twenty-five-thousand-pound KH-9 film return spacecraft and digital imaging KH-11 possible. Each KH-9 carried sixty miles of film, which was returned to Earth via four or five reentry vehicles. The KH-11 spacecraft are much like the Hubble space telescope; they use a large telescope that transmits images digitally through relay spacecraft.

Pipe Gallery, Umbilical Tower Titan Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2006



Hurricane Hold-Down, Mobile Service Structure Titan Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2006

The whole cancellation process was a secret even within the already top-secret program. MOL astronaut Gordon Fullerton recalled learning about the end of his program by hearing about it on his car radio—while he was en route to work on the program. (He would later command two Shuttle missions.) Yet the cancellation of the manned MOL program proved to be a blessing in disguise. It gave Launch Complexes 40 and 41 a more diverse customer base of unmanned satellites, including civil earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft requiring powerful new upper stages. The initial cost to build the ITL was under fifty million dollars. That funded a series of facilities stretching four and a half miles, from the main assembly building northward to Launch Complex 41, which edged over the Kennedy Space Center property line. Construction of each pad was a huge effort. For Launch Complex 41, engineers had to deposit six and a half million cubic yards of landfill dredged from the bottom of the Banana River in order to make a solid surface on which concrete could be poured. A railroad equipped with two 115-ton diesel locomotives, painted in Air Force blue, ran the entire length of the complex; this was used to push the launcher stack from point to point. One of the locomotives had served in the Korean War and still bears shrapnel scars from the North Koreans, according to the Air Force Space and Missile Museum, which now displays one of the locomotives. The ITL concept reflected the growing space booster power of the United States and the need for a whole new way to stack and transport launchers to the pad. The new Titan IIIC launch vehicle and its more powerful offspring were much bigger than the single-stack stages involved in Atlas and Titan operations. Both the NASA Saturn V and the US Air Force ITL programs developed similar vertical-stack launch vehicle transfer concepts. But which organization conceived of the idea first? 8 Air Force records and a separate history of Apollo facilities by NASA credit a 1960 study—done by the Aerospace Corporation and Rand Corporation for the Air Force Space Technology Laboratory—with recommending an ITL with an integration building, where assembly and checkout could be completed before the vehicle was moved to the pad. (The vehicle would be transferred while sitting vertically on its tail.) For Apollo, NASA

and its contractors did the checkout and stacking of the 363-foot Saturn V on a mobile launcher platform (MLP) in the 500-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). A giant crawler eased under the MLP and carried it either three and a half miles to Pad A or about four miles to Pad B, where it was deposited on the pad. The ITL Titan rocket assembly concept was more complicated than merely stacking and processing the Saturn V, as the Titan III was a triplebodied vehicle. The first two stages of a Titan II missile “core vehicle” were stacked atop a rail-mounted mobile launch pad in the Air Force Vehicle Integration Building (VIB). That facility, measuring 240 feet tall, 300 feet wide, and 275 feet deep, was a striking part of the Cape Canaveral skyline for more than forty years. The VIB had four cells, allowing the checkout and stacking of four Titan II ballistic missile core vehicles. The Titan II core, stacked vertically, was towed by locomotive to a massive Solid Motor Assembly Building, where the large solids were added. The entire vehicle was then towed by rail to either Launch Complex 40 or Launch Complex 41, where the payload and nose shroud were added as the vehicle was processed within a mobile service structure. The Titan service structures, especially a newer one added to Pad 41 in the 1980s, weighed as much as navy destroyers and were some of the heaviest moving structures on Earth. The transport of a massive stacked launcher to a pad atop a movable platform was later adopted by the European Ariane, Japanese H-2, Chinese Long March 2F, and Indian PSLV and GSLV programs. The Titan IIIC, Titan 34D, Titan IVA, and Titan IVB programs all used a liquid propellant. Titan core and various upper stages settled in for forty years of unmanned military payload launches, along with the largest, most complex unmanned deep space missions flown by the United States. All the US Air Force Defense Support Program missile warning spacecraft were launched into geosynchronous orbit from Pads 40 and 41, along with all the NRO eavesdropping spacecraft. Other spacecraft launched by the “heavy” Titans included Air Force Satellite Data System spacecraft, which relayed intelligence data around the world, and rare, newer versions of the KH-11 and Lacrosse radar imaging satellites.


Most of the heavy recon satellites, like new versions of the Lacrosse imaging radar spacecraft and advanced versions of the KH-11 optical imaging satellite, needed to fly from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, into polar orbit. This brought the West Coast Titan pad back into heavy use. For several years, a Space Shuttle pad called Space Launch Complex 6 was readied for West Coast launches. The loss of the Challenger in 1986 resulted in the cancellation of that plan; the Titans filled the gap. The Shuttle catastrophe kept the Titan III and IV programs from being phased out, which resulted in nearly twenty years of life being added to the ITL complex at Cape Canaveral. Pad 41 had been deactivated from 1977 to 1986, but it was needed again: payloads that had been planned for the Shuttle were placed on Titan IV. NASA also harnessed the powerful Titan III and Titan IV capability by using them to launch the two Voyager spacecraft to the outer planets, the twin Viking landers to Mars, and the Cassini spacecraft to Saturn. These were major space exploration missions of the late twentieth century. As the twenty-first century dawned, major changes were in store for Pads 40 and 41 as the Titan IVB was phased out. Its last mission was to launch a Lacrosse radar in 2005. The Titan operations were replaced by the new Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)—which took over Launch Complex 41—and the Delta IV, occupying Complex 37, an old Saturn IB pad. The EELVs modernized heavy launch operations. These new heavy launch operations also involved an especially dramatic change to US Air Force military launch propulsion off Pad 41, because the Atlas V uses an RD-180 engine originally designed by the Soviets and now produced outside Moscow (in Khimki) by NPO Energomash.9 Another ironic element in the history of Launch Complex 41, which was originally developed to launch Dyna-Soar winged space planes, is that it did finally launch an unmanned winged spacecraft fortyfive years later—an Atlas V carried the first US Air Force X-37B spaceplane in 2010. Pad 40 is also part of a major shift by NASA toward commercial cargo launches to the International Space Station (ISS), using the commercially developed SpaceX Falcon 9, which made its first test flight from the pad in


2010. SpaceX is in competition with the Orbital Sciences Corporation, which will launch its cargo missions from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Orbital Sciences had its first successful Antares rocket test in April 2013. Three more Falcon 9 rockets, each carrying Dragon cargo spacecraft to the ISS, were launched through April 2014, with an additional nine cargo missions to the ISS planned for launch from Pad 40 through 2015. Whether additional Pad 40 Falcon 9 cargo missions will be flown depends on the outcome of the competition with Orbital Sciences. Both SpaceX and Boeing were winners in a different NASA competition for NASA’s Commercial Crew Launch Program. Launches would take place by 2017. NASA gave SpaceX a long-term lease on Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A (which had launched Apollo Saturn Vs and Space Shuttles) so that SpaceX could launch its triple-body Falcon 9 Heavy rockets. These would carry manned SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. The other winner, Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, is to be launched on Atlas Vs off Launch Complex 41. The ambition of space pioneers who, nearly fifty years ago, believed the US Air Force ITL site would someday fire astronauts into space is thus being brought full circle. Notes 1. “Complex 40 / LC-40,” Global Security.org, July 20, 2011, accessed 2011, http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/facility/ccas-lc-40.htm. 2. Mark Wade, “Encyclopedia Astronautica: McNamara,” www.astronautix. com, accessed September 21, 2014, http://www.astronautix.com/astros/mcnamara. htm. 3. Steven Strom, “Jurassic Technology: The History of the Dyna-Soar,” Crosslink (Winter 2003/2004): 7, accessed 2014, http://www.aerospace.org/wpcontent/uploads/crosslink/V5N1.pdf. Published by the Aerospace Corporation. 4. Craig Covault, “Evidence Builds For Chinese Mach 15 Spaceplane Test from 60 Mi. Altitude,” www.americaspace.com, September 12, 2011, accessed 2014, http://www.americaspace.com/?p=9076. 5. Steven Strom, “Jurassic Technology: The History of the Dyna-Soar,” Crosslink (Winter 2003/2004): 6–7, accessed 2014, http://www.aerospace.org/ wp-content/uploads/crosslink/V5N1.pdf. Published by the Aerospace Corporation.

6. Art Falconer, “Epic Proportions: The Titan Launch Vehicle,” Crosslink (Winter 2002/2003): 32, accessed 2014, http://www.aerospace.org/wp-content/ uploads/crosslink/V4N1.pdf. Published by the Aerospace Corporation. 7. Steven Strom, “The Best Laid Plans: A History of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory,” Crosslink (Summer 2004): 15, accessed 2014, http://www.aerospace. org//wp-content/uploads/crosslink/V5N2.pdf. Published by the Aerospace Corporation.

8. “Remember the Titans,” www.lockheedmartin.com, accessed 2014, http:// www.lockheedmartin.com/us/100years/stories/titan.html. 9. Craig Covault, “LockMart Bets Launch Future on Atlas V,” Aviation Week & Space Technology 155, no. 24 (December 10, 2001): 63.



Clean Room Winch Universal Environmental Shelter, Titan Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2006

US Air Force Space Shuttle Space Launch Complex Space Launch Complex 6 Vandenberg Air Force Base, California 1995



Flame Trench Titan Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2005

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Guenter Wendt, Pad Leader for Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs Restored Apollo Saturn White Room Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center 2002 In his role as pad leader, Guenter Wendt was responsible for everything that went on at the launch pad, and especially in the White Room, the clean room at the top of the launch structure where astronauts were inserted into the space capsule. One of his main roles was to lead the “closeout crew.” This included being the last person to see the astronauts before launch. When the Apollo 1 fire occurred, Wendt was not among the closeout crew. Pictured here, Wendt stands in the Apollo White Room. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center restored the White Room after it was retrieved from the Apollo Launch Umbilical Tower (LUT) Garden at the Kennedy Space Center. Except for the two uppermost levels and the crane, which now reside at the Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center, the remaining LUT segments were scrapped.



Apollo Saturn


he Apollo program still stands as one of mankind’s greatest technical achievements. Much debate continues to take place regarding the value and even the real purpose of the program, but it is hard to deny the effects it has had on the world. The photograph of earthrise from Apollo 8 is one of the most influential images ever made. The phrase, “They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t . . .” is now a common form of complaint when any technology or process fails. Much of the technology surrounding us in the twenty-first century was a direct development of, or heavily influenced by, some aspect of the Apollo program and its predecessors. Examples include integrated circuits,1 advances in athletic footwear (derived from the development of the boots astronauts wore on the moon), and safer clothing and equipment for firefighters.2 These innovations owe their existence or success to Apollo. These technology “spinoffs,” as NASA called them, were really only side effects of the more important benefits of Apollo. For the first time in our history, Apollo gave earthlings a chance to see ourselves as one small part of a much larger universe. Before Apollo, the average human had perhaps an abstract notion of the fact that the universe is immense and immeasurable. Only astronomers and astrophysicists could truly grasp the fact that Earth is an extremely minute part of the universe. To most people, the immenseness of space was as fathomable as the electrons that orbit an atom’s nucleus. We know they exist, but only because someone told us they do. After Apollo 8

crewmember William Anders photographed earthrise from orbit around the moon, the human perspective of Earth shifted. We became aware of our insignificance in the universe. Seeing the small blue-and-white orb set against an ink-black sky taught us that we are truly isolated in our existence and, more important, that our home, Earth, is a unique yet finite planet. If Apollo 8 changed our perception of our place in the universe, then Apollo 11 changed our sense of what humans might be able to achieve. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy stated, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”3 Now, a half century later, we would have a difficult time repeating the feat in the nine-year window Kennedy proposed. Much of the technology that took astronauts to the moon is no longer in production. Today’s space-flight technologies, while more reliable and safer, would need time to be tested and developed for the specific application of returning to the moon. The audiotapes of President Kennedy discussing his desire to get America to the moon first make it clear that the impetus for going to the moon was almost solely the goal of outpacing the USSR in the space race.4 Though the objective of beating the Russians to the moon was chiefly motivated by politics, reaching the moon allowed us, humankind, to see that we are a small part of a much larger apolitical environment. Landing astronauts on the moon and returning them safely in 1969 also taught us to reevaluate


our notion of what is possible when we focus our resources and efforts on a seemingly impossible task. Launch Complex 34 was designed for launching Saturn I and Saturn IB rockets. Complex 34 sits at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on Cape Canaveral. In 2014 the remaining components of the complex included the blockhouse; the launch stand; two moveable flame deflectors parked to the northwest of the pad apron; a cableway running from the blockhouse to a series of underground service and control rooms beneath the pad; and building foundations, with a single remaining wall located just northeast of the launch stand. There are railroad-style tracks that run from the flame deflector parking area to a position underneath the launch stand. These tracks allowed the movement of one of the bulky flame deflectors to and from its launch configuration position directly below the rocket stand. Two other sets of railroad tracks, which carried the mobile service tower (dismantled in 1972), run off to the southwest, to the paved area where the tower was stored during launch. Because of a scheduling conflict, on my second visit to Launch Complex 34 I was allowed access without a security escort. This was the only visit I have made alone to any of the deactivated pads. I arrived at the launch pad in the midst of one of Florida’s spectacular lightning storms. This part of the Florida coast is one of the most active areas for lightning anywhere in the world. I parked my car on one of the pad access roads during a torrent of blowing rain, and I waited for the storm to move through. The lightning was so intense that I decided to move to a more protected position. I left the pad at Complex 34 and drove back to park beside the blockhouse, while lightning flashed all around. The thunderstorm persisted for about forty minutes. This gave me time to contemplate the history of the place. Launch Complex 34 was the site of four unmanned Saturn I rocket launches, two unmanned test launches of the Saturn IB rocket, and the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7. It was also the site of the tragic Apollo 1 (formally designated AS-204) capsule fire. The Apollo 1 fire killed three astronauts during a “plugs out test,” when a simulation of transferring the spacecraft’s electrical power from external to internal occurs. Roger Chaffee, Gus


Grissom, and Ed White II were scheduled for liftoff aboard the Saturn IB rocket for an Earth-orbit test of the new Apollo capsule in late February 1967. On January 27, 1967, the astronauts boarded the Apollo AS-204 capsule for a training test, which would prepare the equipment, astronauts, and launch control team for the actual launch. At 6:31 p.m. (EST) the astronauts reported a fire in the capsule. It was over in less than a minute. The pure-oxygen atmosphere, coupled with the amount of flammable plastics used in the capsule’s interior, fed the fire so rapidly that it reached blast-furnace temperatures in seconds. There was nothing the closeout crew could do to save the astronauts. For the first time, Guenter Wendt, longtime Mercury and Gemini pad leader, had not been among the closeout crew in the White Room. Changes in contracts meant changes in personnel. After the fire, Wendt was recruited to return to his place in the White Room and as pad leader.5 For Gus Grissom, the tragic irony lay in the fact that he had almost drowned after the water landing of his Mercury flight. The explosive bolts on the hatch of his Liberty Bell 7 capsule fired; as water filled the capsule, he bailed out. His suit was not very buoyant—it included a cache of souvenir Mercury dimes—and he started to sink. Much was made of the incident, but no conclusive proof surfaced as to the precise cause of the misfire. Some blamed Grissom, but others who knew him said there was no way he would panic while floating in a sealed capsule after a flight. The Apollo 1 spacecraft’s hatch opened inward and was fitted without explosive bolts, in part to prevent a mishap like that of Liberty Bell 7’s hatch. Grissom’s near drowning during his ocean landing added to the fateful circumstances surrounding his death in the Apollo 1 fire. As bolts of lightning danced around the pad, I huddled in my car. I tried to take my mind off all forms of explosive bolts. The storm was waning. I tried to picture the launch complex at its peak: the mobile service structure rolled out over the launch ring, the launch umbilical tower with hoses carrying liquefied gasses strung to the rocket, like giant boa constrictors. When I viewed pictures of the pad from the early 1960s, it was shocking to see the automobiles that surrounded it. The bulbous shapes of late 1950s and early 1960s cars seemed out of place in such a high-tech environment.

Flame Deflector Tracks Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992


Notes They gave perspective to the accomplishments of the day. Slide rules and legal pads were the era’s main calculating tools. There were no desktop computers or handheld digital calculators. Yet the need to miniaturize components for space flight led to these very devices—and to so many other technological developments. The tempest decreased to a mild drizzle. I returned to the pad and parked on the fringe of the apron surrounding the launch ring. The rain had pooled between the tracks that the flame deflector once rode. Puddles also formed on the firebricks that make up the pad’s surface, where the ground beneath had subsided. The lightning storm had left me a little shaken. Complex 34 is a moving site. I was filled with emotion I was not expecting. It was still raining lightly, and I could see another band of heavier clouds approaching. I decided to make a number of exposures of the launch stand and pooled water. Taking shelter beneath one of the legs of the rocket stand, I noted the epitaph stenciled on the leg: “ABANDON IN PLACE.” I tried to make several more images, but they felt hollow, pointless. The storm, the history, the accomplishments, the tragic loss overwhelmed my senses. It is difficult for me to explain the atmosphere at Complex 34. Standing beneath the launch ring is a spiritual experience. On that day, I let my emotions overtake my purpose. I may not have made any good photographs, but I felt the power of the place, and I would return to Complex 34 over and over again.


1. Jack St. Clair Kilby, “Turning Potential into Realities: The Invention of the Integrated Circuit,” Chemphyschem 2, no. 8–9 (2001): 487. Nobel lecture published by Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH. 2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “Benefits from Apollo: Giant Leaps in Technology,” NASA Facts, July 2004. 3. John F. Kennedy, “Special Message to Congress on Urgent National Needs, May 25, 1961,” Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1964), 404. 4. These audio recordings clearly demonstrate that Kennedy’s main goal for the Apollo program and its predecessors was to beat the Soviet Union to the moon. See Tom McNaught, “News Release: JFK Library Releases White House Tape on Space Race” (Boston, MA: The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 2001). 5. Guenter Wendt worked as pad leader for McDonnell Aircraft during the Mercury and Apollo programs. When North American Aviation (later North American Rockwell) won the contract for Apollo spacecraft construction and pad operations, Wendt was replaced in his role as pad leader. After the Apollo 1 fire, Deke Slayton, director of flight crew operations, quickly had Wendt hired by North American Aviation and reassigned to his role as pad leader. See Guenter Wendt and Eugene Still, The Unbroken Chain (Ontario: Apogee Books, 2001), 94–99.

Apollo Saturn IB Rocket Being Erected at Launch Complex 34 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1965 Photograph courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration



Cable Way Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2000

Support Building Wall Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1990



Access Hatch Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993


Remembering Pad 34 Pamela Melroy


y first work assignment as an astronaut was as part of the team of astronauts, known as “Cape Crusaders,” who support activities at the Kennedy Space Center. Duties included preparing the Shuttle cockpit and strapping the crew in for each Shuttle launch. Shortly after starting those duties, I attended a meeting at an office on the Cape Canaveral side. One of the managers at the meeting offered to show me Launch Pad 34. He said it was something I should see. On the walk over he told me about the site. Together we remembered that Friday in January 1967 when literally a thousand dedicated people assembled to support three space-suited astronauts during a launch simulation of Apollo 1. Gus Grissom, Ed White II, and Roger Chaffee donned their suits, were driven to the pad, and then were carefully and meticulously strapped into their couches—by some of the same men who, years later, trained me how to thoroughly and carefully strap in Shuttle astronauts, explaining to me the importance of each step. The manager and I talked about how the crew purged the module and waited patiently for the simulation to begin, despite various delays. And we remembered that, shortly after sunset on that winter evening, space-suited arms fumbled desperately for a hatch. After that first trip, I was drawn to visit Pad 34 whenever I was at the Cape—often enough to know exactly how to avoid the potholes in the road. Though the complex is only a ghost of what it once was, Pad 34 does indeed still remain, a large cement-ring structure buttressed by four support pillars. Bits of linoleum survive among encroaching vines, and crumbled foundations are bordered by shrubbery. A solitary wall is left standing. One can walk past the pad and down the steps that lead to the ground control station. Although Pad 34 is a relic of its former self, enough remains intact to allow you to imagine past moments of drama and tragedy and, of course, the eventual elation of the successful launch of Apollo 7.


It was the first time I had ever seen the words “ABANDON IN PLACE” stenciled on something. As a military officer and government employee my entire adult life, I instantly knew what it meant; the US government never misses an opportunity to state the completely obvious when it comes to property management. At first I was slightly offended that the pad wore a public message of disownment. However, that all changed when I first saw Roland Miller’s picture ABANDON IN PL ACE/PEACE. I was electrified that the artist had seen that blurry word and captured the essence of this place so perfectly. Art had exposed an inner truth for all who could see it. Even when I did not have time to visit the pad, I could enjoy Roland’s photographs there in the Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Crew Quarters, where most of the sequence hung for many years. After every successful Space Shuttle launch, I would make one last stop at Pad 34 to think over the unique details of the countdown sequence—the inevitable small hiccups and triumphs—and the final, awe-inspiring moment when everyone’s work comes together to launch a Space Shuttle. And every time, I gave thanks to God for a safe launch. The rush of the wind through the scrub and the ever-present waves on the beach reminded me that I was on hallowed ground. As a young astronaut, eager for my first flight and determined to be a good Cape Crusader, I never could have imagined that I would return again to that pad in grief and anguish, seeking comfort after the loss of Columbia, of dear friends and colleagues. I spent many months at the Kennedy Space Center working on the Columbia Reconstruction Team. Although we were all proud to be a part of the team, it was terribly difficult work, especially the reconstruction of the crew module and the documentation and preservation of the crew’s equipment and personal effects. There were days when I felt I simply could not face the debris one more time. Those were the times when I went to the pad to wander, to let the ocean breeze and sound of the waves wash over me, to let my personal storm break and leave me calm and resolved again.

For me, Pad 34 is and always will be a completely unique place in the heart of a bustling spaceport—a quiet place to think and a spiritual place to meditate. I feel the past there, but very much as a part of the present. I feel the spirit of my heroes reaching across time, guiding and shaping all that we do in human space flight. The Apollo 1 crew had an impact on the procedures at the pad, in the Space Shuttle program, and, even today, in the development of new spacecraft; the lessons learned have directly affected the safety and success of every subsequent space flight. I’m proud to say that I see that same outcome after Columbia. We fly more safely each time we launch because of what we learned. Those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of exploration will always be remembered by those who come after, building achievements upon the ashes of their loss. We remember them with pride and resolution to do better. Pad 34 may be abandoned in place, but it will never be abandoned in my heart.

ABANDON IN PLACE/PEACE Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



Apollo 1 Fire Commemorative Blockhouse Service Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida January 27, 1994



Apollo 1 Fire Commemorative Launch Pad Service (Bob Castro, Helen Castro, and Mark Pinchal) Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida January 27, 1994



Owl Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991

Flame Deflectors Detail Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2011



Launch Ring Restored Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 2000

Blockhouse Launch Complex 37 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



Liquid Fuel Tank Support Launch Complex 37 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993

Blast Door Launch Complex 37B Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1991



Wall Launch Complex 37A Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993

INSTANT SPACE Launch Complex 37B Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1992



Rubber Room Slide and Shelter Dome Entrance Launch Complex 39B Apollo Saturn NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 1999

Rubber Room, Shelter Dome Seating Launch Complex 39A Apollo Saturn NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 2013


Apollo Saturn V Launch Umbilical Tower Garden NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 1995 128



Swing Arm 5 Apollo Saturn V Launch Umbilical Tower NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 1995

Apollo 13 Capsule Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center 2000 131

Fuel Tank (Lunar Module) Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center 2002 132

Lunar Module NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida 1996 133


Apollo Saturn V F1 Engine Cluster Diptych NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas 1996


PROJECT APOLLO Crate Charlie Bell’s Space Junkyard, Merritt Island, Florida 2000 Collected by Charlie Bell, redeposited



The Cultural Heritage of the Moon Beth Laura O’Leary

Our lives submit to archaeology. —John Updike, “Harv Is Plowing Now,” 1966


very day, our lives become archaeological. We create archaeological sites where we live and work, using and discarding artifacts. Our “great” private monuments include our homes, our schools, and the places we frequent and consider important in our lives. And we create lots of trash—the stuff that archaeologists categorize, analyze, document, and dream about. The average American creates 7.1 pounds of trash a day.1 That is certainly more refuse than our hunter-gatherer ancestors generated ten thousand years ago, but it is just as prosaic and revealing of human behavior as discarded animal bones and fire-cracked rock. The big events in our lives encompass significant locations: our childhood home, where we fell in love, where we were married, or the birthplace of our first child. These events happen in places or sites that usually contain the physical remains of our lives, in the form of artifacts and features (i.e., artifacts in situ, nonportable artifacts such as a structure or a trail). Some of these sites have been neglected, abandoned, or destroyed, with only their memories persisting in our minds. Few are fully documented in any systematic scientific way. The significant events in our culture’s history may become part of our own personal lives even if we only experience them vicariously—by reading about them, listening to the radio, watching television, or being on the Internet. All humanity exists in a web of things and the interactions they reference. Space is a place where few of us have ever been. Only a few hundred people have actually been there. It takes an amazing amount of technology to go

there. There is even a special name for those individuals who have gone there: astronauts. These earliest space explorers are cast as heroes in the grand scheme of exploration, which began with our ancestors’ migration out of Africa. Space is humanity’s most recent frontier, a region we have reached physically and technologically only in the latter half of the twentieth century and whose exploration continues into the twenty-first century. The history of space exploration encompasses a recent, short period of time, within the last fifty-plus years. It can be thought of as beginning with the launch of the USSR’s satellite Sputnik on October 4, 1957, which moved the Cold War into a new territory. On that day, what was perceived to be a physical vacuum, empty of life and history, became a place where human culture and values could exist, some ephemerally, others for eternity. These values influenced both early space technology—civilian, military, nationalistic, and scientific—and our future interactions with space. The space race of the 1950s and ’60s shaped space policy and the ways in which space was and is explored. Events from the launch of the first satellite from Earth to the last Apollo moon landing left a material record that can be studied by archaeologists. Though the earliest Soviet satellite has long since reentered the atmosphere and no longer exists, the American Vanguard 1 remains in orbit. NASA predicts that it will be there for another six hundred years. It is currently the oldest human object in space. Its existence reflects the scientific arena and the social and political conflicts and hopes of the Cold War era.



Neil Armstrong (photographer) Apollo 11 Footprint on the Moon 1969 Photograph courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Since 1957, more than forty-two thousand rocket launches have delivered payloads into space—particularly for telecommunication—and more launches continue at an accelerated pace, by both nations and commercial interests. Scientists estimate that there are around twenty-nine thousand objects greater than ten centimeters orbiting around our planet. There are pieces of broken rockets, satellites, and chips of paint. In computer-graphic images representing a view from space of these objects as they orbit Earth, a luminous green-and-blue ball appears to be surrounded by a swarm of swirling debris, reminiscent of an angry bees’ nest. We have ventured off Earth and left our home surrounded by artifacts and debris. We have also put spacecraft on one comet, two asteroids, and five other celestial bodies. The first, and so far only, celestial body on which human beings physically landed was the moon. It currently holds over 190 metric tons of material culture, which we have placed there since 1959 (the USSR being the first to crash-land on the moon, with the robotic Luna 2). A look at the first manned lunar landing reveals an archaeological site created by two humans 238,900 miles from home, in approximately twenty-­ one hours, on July 20, 1969. They left behind in excess of 106 artifacts and features, including footprints, empty food bags, and an Apollo 1 mission patch commemorating the astronauts Chaffee, Grissom, and White. This iconic exploratory event can be investigated in the same way as the site in the Caribbean where Columbus landed in the fifteenth century. The style is different and the number of artifacts is greater, but the archaeological methods of analysis are the same.2 Dr. Edward Staski, a professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University, has defined the study of space archaeology as the archaeological study of material culture found in outer space—that is, exoatmospheric material that is clearly the result of human behavior pertaining to the historical development of exoatmospheric activities.3 It is important to state that material culture in the present or near present operates in ongoing cultural systems and is not significantly isolated from material culture of the past, which is in the archaeological record. The exoatmospheric artifacts do not exist in a historical vacuum. The objects, according to Staski, are “part of a

much larger assemblage of materials that, until a certain time and stage in technological development, were confined to the Earth, but that afterwards could enter the archaeological record somewhere else.”4 They are part of a larger assemblage of all artifacts, features, and places associated with aerospace and aeronautical technology. One of the current approaches in archaeology is the idea of a cultural landscape. A cultural landscape as defined by UNESCO is “the combined works of nature and man.” 5 As an example, the launch complex at the Kennedy Space Center (where the Saturn V rocket took off carrying three Apollo 11 astronauts) and the lunar site at Tranquility Base (where they landed) are part of a cultural landscape. Each site is inexorably linked to the other and to many more sites relevant to the development of the Apollo program. An argument could be made that the first landing site on the moon is the most critical place within the cultural landscape of space. Alice Gorman has dubbed this kind of cultural landscape a “spacescape.” 6

Archaeological Map of Apollo 11 Tranquility Base Site on the Moon Revised from the Apollo 11 Lunar Traverse map, by the US Geological Survey 1969 Map courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. From Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009).


The modern ethic eschews the idea of trash being important, mainly because Earth is filling up with it. Yet trash or discard is the stuff that archaeologists use to reconstruct and understand our past. The discipline of archaeology results in knowledge unobtainable by other methods and unavailable from other kinds of data sources. We tend to think of humanity’s past as manageable—a few arrowheads, some ancient Greek ruins, or a Civil War battlefield—but the history of space exploration provides us with huge amounts of technology, which most of us do not really understand. Objects also have values: economic, aesthetic, and cultural. A transient object is one whose value is falling and will, at some stage, approach zero. A durable object is one whose value is either stable or increasing.7 We make decisions on what is a significant historic artifact and what is merely disposable. The transient or disposable artifacts range from single-use ballpoint pens to the space station Mir, which was deorbited in 2001. Mir was big, obsolete, and disposable. But what fell from the sky into its Pacific Ocean graveyard would be considered by many archaeologists an irreplaceable example of the world’s heritage. Museums throughout the world preserve what we value and consider important, and some include examples of aircraft. Deemed significant, the few early US spacecraft curated in museums included the capsules and command modules from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs that returned to Earth. The majority of the spacecraft parts and pieces were discarded. Although some of the scientific equipment left on the moon can be considered discard, several Apollo lunar laser-ranging retroreflectors on the lunar surface are used by observatories around the world; these continue to be used to measure the distance from Earth to the moon and for other scientific research. What is tricky is how to preserve for future generations the artifacts and features left on celestial bodies. For example, the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base site is protected by its very isolated location, its lunar environment, and the prohibitive costs of visiting. But, in effect, it remains outside the domain of international protection. Preservation in space and on the moon is not specifically covered by international law; it is covered by


the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. This treaty provides for national claims or title to objects and personnel left by the state that put them on a celestial body, such as the moon, but it does not include the actual lunar surface itself. 8 Recent efforts by archaeologists interested in space archaeology and heritage include a resolution by the World Archaeological Congress recognizing space archaeology and heritage; the World Archaeological Congress’s creation of a Space Heritage Task Force; the placement of the artifacts and features at the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base site on both the California and New Mexico State Registers of Cultural Properties in 2010, because of their importance and relevance to those states; and proposed research by the International Committee on Monuments and Sites.9 The International Committee on Monuments and Sites functions as an advisory body to the World Heritage Convention, which places sites of outstanding universal value on the World Heritage List; sites on the list include Chaco Canyon in the United States, the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, and Great Britain’s Stonehenge. A critical step in preservation happened in 2011, when NASA created guidelines for protecting the scientific and historic value of lunar sites for future space-faring entities.10 Humanity has a tendency to want to keep and protect the firsts of its peoples. We have successfully protected the earliest known hominid footprints, in Laetoli, Tanzania; the rock art in Chauvet Cave, France; and the Apollo 11 command module, which is on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. So far, the preservation strategies and legalities function within national boundaries on Earth. We abandon much of historical material culture, but what remains, intentionally or unintentionally, provides us with insights into our human journey. Standing at the place where the Apollo 1 astronauts perished in a test in Florida, I saw the remains of a large, four-columned concrete structure with a high central opening to the sky. For me, it was more than a simple feature of space exploration; it had all the haunting power and feeling of Stonehenge. It is time to find ways to protect the material culture of our important heritage off Earth, and its links to places at home.

Notes 1. Edward Hume, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash (New York: Avery, 2012). 2. Beth L. O’Leary, “One Giant Leap: Preserving Cultural Resources on the Moon,” in Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage, ed. Ann Darrin and Beth L. O’Leary (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009), 757–80. 3. Edward Staski, “Archaeology: The Basics,” in Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage, ed. Ann Darrin and Beth L. O’Leary (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2009), 17–28. 4. Ibid., 23. 5. UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, “Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention” (Paris: World Heritage Centre, February 2, 2005), 14, http://whc.unesco.org/archive/opguide05-en.pdf. 6. Alice C. Gorman, “The Cultural Landscape of Interplanetary Space,” Journal of Social Archaeology 5, no. 1 (2005): 85–107. 7. Robert Barclay and Randall C. Brooks, “Archaeology: The Basics,” in Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology, and Heritage, ed. Ann Darrin and Beth L. O’Leary (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2009), 679–700. 8. Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, U.S.U.K.-U.S.S.R., Oct. 10, 1967, 610 U.N.T.S., 8843. 9. For the Space Heritage Task Force, see Alice C. Gorman and John B. Campbell, “Space Heritage,” WorldArcheologicalCongress.org, last modified May 15, 2009, accessed September 23, 2014, http://www.worldarchaeologicalcongress.org/activities/taskforces/261-space-heritage. For the Tranquility Base artifacts, see Beth L. O’Leary et al., “The Objects and Structures at Tranquility Base, Nomination to the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties” (proposal accepted by unanimous vote by the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee, Santa Fe, NM, April 10, 2010). 10. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts” (Washington, DC: NASA, July 20, 2011), http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/617743main_NASA-USG_ LUNAR_HISTORIC_SITES_RevA-508.pdf.



Sunrise Launch Complex 34 Apollo Saturn Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida 1993


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Page numbers in italic text indicate illustrations. abandoned in place, as engineering designation, xxi–xxii, 112 Abandon in Place (Bradbury), viii–ix Aerospace Corporation, 92, 95 Air Force Launch Pads, 91–92; as ITL facility, 91, 95; Launch Complex 6, 99; Launch Complex 34, x; Launch Complex 40, 90, 91–92, 93–94, 95, 98, 100; Launch Complex 41, 91–92, 95; VIB, 95 Aldrin, Buzz, 4, 92 Anders, William, 103 Anderson, Laurie, 6 Apollo 1, 104, 106n5, 112–13, 140; Fire Commemorative, 114–17 Apollo 7, 104, 112 Apollo 8, 103 Apollo 8 Coming Home (McCall), 4 Apollo 11: lunar landing, 137, 138–39, 139–40; moon footprints, 138; Tranquility Base, 139–40 Apollo 13, 131 Apollo landing sites, xii Apollo program, 106; lunar landing and, 103–4; technology spin-offs from, 103. See also Apollo 1; Apollo 7; Apollo 8; Launch Complex 34

Arago, François, 2 Armstrong, Neil, 92, 138 astronomy: in daguerreotypes, 2; photography and, 1–3. See also planets, in photographs; solar eclipses, in photography Atkins, Anna, 2 Atlas rocket program, 25, 29, 30–31, 35–47, 91; Air Force Launch Pads, 91–92, 95; EELV, 96; ICBMs in, 29 Aurora 7, 29 aviation, in photography, 3–4, 6 Barger, M. Susan, 2 Beddingfield, Sam, 24, 29 Bell, Charlie, 136 Boeing. See Santa Susana Field Laboratory; X-20 Dyna-Soar Booker, Chakaia, 6 Bradbury, Ray, viii–ix, 6 British Algae (Atkins), 2 Burned Retina (Starn and Starn), 6 Calder, Alexander, 4 Calle, Paul, 4

Cape Canaveral, 15–20; abandonment of, 14; deactivation of, xxi–xxii; demolition of, xxi–xxii; early rocket launches from, 11; Launch Complex 5, 25, 29, 32; Launch Complex 9, 15–16; Launch Complex 11, 35; Launch Complex 13, 36, 38–45; Launch Complex 14, 25, 29, 33; Launch Complex 15, 78; Launch Complex 19, 75–76, 77, 83–89; Launch Complex 21, 17; Launch Complex 26, 26–28; Launch Complex 29, 20; Launch Complex 31, 18–19; Launch Complex 34, x–xi, xiii, 104, 105, 106, 107–11, 113–20, 142–43; Launch Complex 36B, 37, 46–47; Launch Complex 37, 121–22; Launch Complex 37A, 124; Launch Complex 37B, 123, 125; Launch Complex 40, 90, 91–92, 93–94, 95, 98, 100; Launch Complex 41, 91–92, 95; Moon Hut in, xii; as National Historic Landmark, xi. See also Launch Complex 34 “Cape Crusaders,” 112 Carpenter, Scott, 29 Celmins, Vija, 4 Chaffee, Roger, xi, 104, 112. See also Apollo 1 Challenger (Space Shuttle), 14, 19, 96 Chip and Batty Explore Space (Wegman), 4


Coalbrookdale at Night (Loutherbourg), 1 Cold War: military technology during, 11; rocket technology during, 11; space program as part of, xxi, 4, 137 Collins, Carold, 74, 82 Collins, Harold, 74, 82 Columbia (Space Shuttle), 112 Complex 33, 12–13 Cooper, Gordon, 29, 75 cultural landscape, 139 daguerreotype photography, 2–3, 9n11; astronomy and, 2; in US, 2 Daumier, Honoré, 3 Dead Tech, 6 Debus, Kurt, 82 Delta 7, 29 Dodd, Lamar, 4 Draper, John William, 2 Dynamic Test Stand, 73 Earthrise, 4, 5 Edwards Air Force Base, 49, 52–56 EELV. See Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Eileen Collins (Leibovitz), 4 End of the Moon, 6 Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), 96 Faith 7, 29 Farm Security Administration (FSA), 6 Field of Dreams, xvi Five Weeks in a Balloon (Verne), 3 Freedom 7, 25, 29 Friendship 7, 25, 29 From the Earth to the Moon (Verne), 3 FSA. See Farm Security Administration Fullerton, Gordon, 95


Gagarin, Yuri, 4, 25 Gemini 3, 4 Gemini B, 92 Gemini Launch Pad (Wyeth), 4 Gemini Titan program, xxi, 4, 74, 75–76, 82; deactivation of, 76; goal of, 75; ICBMs, 76, 79–81; Launch Complex 19, 74, 75–76, 77, 83–89; Manned Orbiting Laboratory, 92, 95–96 Glenn, John, 25 Gorman, Alice, 139 Grissom, Gus, xi, 25, 75, 104, 112. See also Apollo 1 Grissom and Young (Rockwell), 4 HABS. See Historic American Building Survey HAER. See Historic American Engineering Record Hiles, Bruce, xxi Historic American Building Survey (HABS), 6 Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), 6 Hot Shot (Rauschenberg), 6 Hurd, Peter, 4 hypersonic wind tunnels, 61 ICBMs. See intercontinental ballistic missiles Indian Science (Smith, J.), 4 industrial archaeology: as art, 1; HAER, 6; in photography, 6; US documentation of, 6 Industrial Revolution, 1 integrate-transfer-launch (ITL) facilities, 91, 95–96 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 11; Gemini Titan program and, 76, 79–81 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), 11 International Space Station (ISS), 96 IRBMs. See intermediate-range ballistic missiles ISS. See International Space Station ITL facilities. See integrate-transfer-launch facilities

Jacquette, Yvonne, 4 jet-assisted takeoff (JATO), 11 Johnson, Johnny, 14 Johnson Space Center: Mission Control, xii, xv, 4; Saturn V rockets, 134–35; vacuum chambers, 71–72 Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, 102, 131–32 Kennedy, John F., 103, 106n4 Kennedy Space Center, xi; Launch Complex 39A, xii, 91, 127; Launch Complex 39B, xii, 91, 126; MILA at, 25; Saturn V rockets, xiv, 128–30, 134–35; VAB, xii, xiv Khrushchev, Nikita, 4 LaBelle, Patti, 6 Laird, Melvin, 92 Langenheim, Frederick, 3, 3, 9n11 Langenheim, William, 3, 3, 9n11 Langley Research Center, 69; Lunar Landing facilities, 70; pressure tunnels at, 68; wind tunnels at, 61, 62–67 Launch Area 3A (Wallops Flight Facility), 21–22 Launch Complex 5 (Cape Canaveral), 25, 29, 32 Launch Complex 6 (Vandenberg Air Force Base), 99 Launch Complex 9 (Cape Canaveral), 15–16 Launch Complex 11 (Cape Canaveral), 35 Launch Complex 13 (Cape Canaveral), 36, 38–45 Launch Complex 14 (Cape Canaveral), 25, 29, 33 Launch Complex 15 (Cape Canaveral), 78 Launch Complex 19 (Cape Canaveral), 75–76, 77, 83–89 Launch Complex 21 (Cape Canaveral), 17 Launch Complex 26 (Cape Canaveral), 26–28 Launch Complex 29 (Cape Canaveral), 20

Launch Complex 31 (Cape Canaveral), 18–19 Launch Complex 33 (White Sands Missile Range), 12–13 Launch Complex 34, 6, 8 Launch Complex 34 (Cape Canaveral), x, xi, xiii, 142–43; Apollo 1, 104, 106n5, 114–17; cultural legacy of, 112–13; Saturn I rockets, xi, 6, 7, 104, 105, 107–11, 113–20 Launch Complex 36B (Cape Canaveral), 37, 46–47 Launch Complex 37 (Cape Canaveral), 121–22 Launch Complex 37A (Cape Canaveral), 124 Launch Complex 37B (Cape Canaveral), 123, 125 Launch Complex 39A (Kennedy Space Center), xii, 91, 127 Launch Complex 39B (Kennedy Space Center), xii, 91, 126 Launch Complex 40 (Cape Canaveral), 90, 91–92, 93–94, 95, 98, 100 Launch Complex 41 (Cape Canaveral), 91–92, 95 Leibovitz, Annie, 4 Liberty Bell 7, 25, 26, 104 Loutherbourg, Philippe de, 1 Lowe, Jet, 6, 7 lunar landing: archaeological map of, 139; artifacts left after, 139; cultural heritage of, 137, 139–40; moon footprints, 138; preservation strategies for, 140; Tranquility Base, 139 Lunar Landing facilities, 70 Lunar modules, 132–33 Lunar Orbiter missions, 29 lunar photography, 2, 3 Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program, 92; cancellation of, 95 Marshall Space Flight Center, 49, 51, 73 Martin, Fletcher, 4 McCall, Robert T., 4

McCarthy, Joseph, xii McNamara, Robert S., 91 Men Standing Next to Sally, xix Mercury rocket program, 25, 29, 32–34; Mercury 9, 4 Merritt Island Launch Annex (MILA), 25 MILA. See Merritt Island Launch Annex Miller, Roland, xi, xvi–xvii Mir (space station), 140 Mission Control, NASA, xv mobile launcher platform (MLP), 95 MOL program. See Manned Orbiting Laboratory program Moon Hut, xii Moon is the Oldest TV (Paik), 6 Moonwalk (Warhol), 4

Paik, Nam June, 6 Pennell, Joseph, 1 Pether, William, 2 A Philosopher Reading a Lecture on the Orrery (Wright of Derby), 1, 2 photography: astronomy and, 1–3; aviation and, 3–4, 6; as cultural archaeology, xviii; daguerreotype process, 2–3; descriptive, xvii; historical applications of, xvii–xviii; of industrial archaeology, 6; intentions of, xvii; as scientific archaeology, xviii. See also lunar photography; planets, in photographs; solar eclipses, in photography planets, in photographs, 2 pressure tunnels, 68 Project APOLLO, 136

Nadar, 3 Nadar Raising Photography to the Height of Art (Daumier), 3 Namingha, Dan, 4 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): art program under, 4–5; development of, 4, 10n15; Mission Control, xv. See also Cape Canaveral; Johnson Space Center; Kennedy Space Center National Air and Space Museum, xii National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), 92 Nesbitt, Lowell, 4 Nixon, Richard, 4 NRO. See National Reconnaissance Office

Rauschenberg, Robert, 6 Remembering Columbia (Booker), 6 rephotographic projects, xviii Riley, Terry, 6 rocket technology, 11. See also Atlas rocket program; Mercury rocket program; Saturn I rockets; Saturn V rockets; static rocket engine tests Rockwell, Norman, 4 Russia. See Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

“Ode to NASA,” 6 Office of War Information (OWI), 6 Outer Space Treaty, 140 OWI. See Office of War Information

Sample, Paul, 4 Santa Susana Field Laboratory, 49, 51, 57 Saturn I rockets, xi, 6, 7, 104, 105, 107–11, 113–25 Saturn V rockets, xiv, 128–30, 134–35; static engine test stands, 51–55, 57, 60 Schirra, Wally, 29, 75 7-by-10-Foot Wind Tunnel, 65–66 Shenlong spaceplane, 91 Shepard, Alan, 25 Sigma 7, 29


Sky Garden (Rauschenberg), 6 Slater, Samuel, 1 Slayton, Deke, 29, 106n5 Smith, Jaune Quick-to-See, 4 Smith, Margaret Chase, xii Snelling, Henry Hunt, 2 solar eclipses, in photography, 2–3, 3 Space Heritage Task Force, 140 Space Junkyard, 136 space program: during Cold War, xxi; historic legacy of, xi–xii, 137; historic preservation of, xii; in popular culture, 4; rocket tests, 11; static rocket engine tests, 49–50; US, xxi, xxi–xii; USSR, xxi, 4, 25 SpaceX Falcon 9, 91, 96 Sputnik 1, 4, 25, 137 Sputnik 3, 4 Starn, Doug, 6 Starn, Mike, 6 Staski, Edward, 139 static rocket engine tests, 49–50; at Edwards Air Force Base, 49, 52–56; at Marshall Space Flight Center, 49, 51; Saturn V rockets, 51–60; at Stennis Space Center, 49, 60; at White Sands Missile Range, 58–59; wind tunnels and, 61 Steinberg, Rolf, 6 Stennis Space Center, 49, 60 Stupich, Martin, 6, 8 subsonic wind tunnels, 61 “Sun Rings,” 6 supersonic wind tunnels, 61 Talbot, William Henry Fox, 2 30-by-60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel, 61, 62–64 Tranquility Base, 139–40 transonic wind tunnels, 61, 67


tunnels. See wind tunnels Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR): science and space exhibitions, 4, 5; space program in, xxi, 4, 25; Sputnik 1, 4, 25; Sputnik 3, 4 United States (US): daguerreotype photography in, 2; industrial archaeology in, 6; Industrial Revolution in, 1; rocket technology in, 11. See also space program USSR. See Union of Soviet Socialist Republics VAB. See Vehicle Assembly Building vacuum chambers, 71–72 Vandenberg Air Force Base, 76, 79–81, 99; Launch Complex 6, 99; Titan Missile Silo 395-C, 76, 79–81 Vanguard 1, 137 Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), xii, xiv Vehicle Integration Building (VIB), 95 Verne, Jules, 3 VIB. See Vehicle Integration Building Vickrey, Robert, 4 View of the Moon (Whipple), 2, 3 Vostok 1, 25 Wallops Flight Facility, 21–22; Launch Area 3A, 22–23 Walsh, Rick, 50 Warhol, Andy, 4 “Way Up There,” 6 Wegman, William, 4 Weir, John Ferguson, 1 Wendt, Guenter, 102, 104, 106n5 Whipple, John Adams, 2, 3 White, Ed, II, xi, 104, 112. See also Apollo 1 White Room, Launch Complex 19, 75–76 White Sands Missile Range, 49, 58–59; Launch

Complex 33, 12–13 wind tunnels: at Langley Research Center, 61, 62–67; 7-by-10-Foot Wind Tunnel, 65–66; 30-by-60-Foot Full-Scale Wind Tunnel, 61, 62–64 World Archaeological Congress, 140 Wright of Derby, Joseph, 1, 2 Wyeth, Jamie, 4 X-20 Dyna-Soar, 91–92 Zalesch, Saul, 4