A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Students Study Florida Space Race Site
Thursday, March 16, 2023
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA—According to a Florida Today report, students from the University of Central Florida are investigating the Bumper Blockhouse site, which is located at Launch Complex 3, in a corner of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Bumper 8, a two-stage rocket launched from a small, wood-framed blockhouse on July 24, 1950, was the first rocket launched from Cape Canaveral. Air Force photographs from the time show that the small wooden building had been protected by a sand embankment reinforced with burlap bags filled with sand or cement. The structure was equipped with a small window and mirrors that functioned like a periscope to view the launch. “In the time of Bumper, it would have been very crude—just minimal information coming back from the rocket,” said Roger McCormick, a Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum volunteer. The wooden structure was replaced with a concrete blockhouse in 1951 for additional rocket launches throughout the decade. The students have surveyed and mapped the site, and they have dug test pits, uncovering a bundle of cables, concrete, metal debris, and chunks of charred asphalt. A planned survey with ground-penetrating radar may detect any remaining traces of the structures. To read about recovery of rocket engines from the manned Apollo missions, go to "Apollo Returns from the Abyss."
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