Cape Canaveral

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Cape Canaveral
Cabo Cañaveral
Cape canaveral.jpg
View from space in 1991
USA Florida relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location in Florida
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Red pog.svg
Cape Canaveral (the United States)
Location Florida, United States
Coordinates 28°28′N80°32′W / 28.46°N 80.53°W / 28.46; -80.53 Coordinates: 28°28′N80°32′W / 28.46°N 80.53°W / 28.46; -80.53
Offshore water bodies Atlantic Ocean
Elevation10 ft (3 m) [1]

Cape Canaveral, from the Spanish Cabo Cañaveral, is a cape in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the center of the state's Atlantic coast. Known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 to 1973, it lies east of Merritt Island, separated from it by the Banana River. It was discovered by the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León in 1513.

Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and in the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Cape (geography) A large headland extending into a body of water, usually the sea

In geography, a cape is a headland or a promontory of large size extending into a body of water, usually the sea. A cape usually represents a marked change in trend of the coastline which makes them prone to natural forms of erosion, mainly tidal actions. This results in capes having a relatively short geological lifespan. Capes can be formed by glaciers, volcanoes, and changes in sea level. Erosion plays a large role in each of these methods of formation.

Brevard County, Florida County in Florida, United States

Brevard County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 543,376, the 10th most populated county in Florida. The official county seat has been located in Titusville since 1894. Brevard County comprises the Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is located along the east Florida coast and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.


It is part of a region known as the Space Coast, and is the site of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Since many U.S. spacecraft have been launched from both the station and the Kennedy Space Center on adjacent Merritt Island, the two are sometimes conflated with each other. In homage to its spacefaring heritage, the Florida Public Service Commission allocated area code 321 (as in a launch countdown) to the Cape Canaveral area. [2]

Space Coast Region in Florida

The Space Coast is a region in the U.S. state of Florida around the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All of NASA-launched manned spaceflights have departed from either KSC or Cape Canaveral. The Air Force Station has also launched unmanned military and civilian rockets. Cities in the area include Titusville, Cocoa, Rockledge, Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island (unincorporated), Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Indialantic, Palm Bay, and Viera (unincorporated). Most of the area lies within Brevard County. It is bounded on the south by the Treasure Coast, on the west and north by Central Florida, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Spaceport on Cape Canaveral, Florida

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) is an installation of the United States Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing.

Kennedy Space Center United States space launch site

The John F. Kennedy Space Center is one of ten National Aeronautics and Space Administration field centers. Since December 1968, the KSC has been NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight. Launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs were carried out from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 and managed by KSC. Located on the east coast of Florida, KSC is adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). The management of the two entities work very closely together, share resources, and even own facilities on each other's property.

Other features of the cape include the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse and Port Canaveral, one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. The city of Cape Canaveral lies just south of the Port Canaveral District. [3] Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian River, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore are also features of this area.

Cape Canaveral Light lighthouse in Florida, United States

The Cape Canaveral Light is a historic lighthouse on the east coast of the U.S. state of Florida. The light was established in 1848 to warn ships of the dangerous shoals that lie off its coast. It is located inside the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and managed by the 45th Space Wing of the U.S. Air Force with the assistance of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. It is the only fully operational lighthouse that is owned by the United States Air Force.

Port Canaveral port

Port Canaveral is a cruise, cargo, and naval port in Brevard County, Florida, United States. It is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world with 4.5 million cruise passengers passing through during 2016. Over 6,000,000 short tons (5,400,000 t) of bulk cargo moves through each year. Primary cargoes include slag, salt, autos/trucks, containers, petroleum, heavy equipment, lumber, and aggregate. The port has conveyors and hoppers for loading products directly into trucks and facilities for bulk-cargo containers. The channel is about 44 feet (13 m) deep.

Cape Canaveral, Florida City in Florida

Cape Canaveral is a city in Brevard County, Florida. The population was 9,912 at the 2010 United States Census. It is part of the Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville Metropolitan Statistical Area.


A section of a map from the 1584 edition of Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Additamentum III showing the name C. de Canareal 1584-Canavaral.jpg
A section of a map from the 1584 edition of Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Additamentum III showing the name C. de Cañareal

Humans have occupied the area for at least 12,000 years. [4]

During the middle Archaic period, from 5000 BC to 2000 BC, the Mount Taylor period culture region covered northeast Florida, including the area around Cape Canaveral. Late in the Archaic period, from 2000 BC to 500 BC, the Mount Taylor culture was succeeded by the Orange culture, which was among the earliest cultures in North America to produce pottery. The Orange culture was followed by the St. Johns culture, from 500 BC until after European contact. The area around the Indian River was in the Indian River variant of the St. Johns culture, with influences from the Belle Glade culture to the south. [5]

The Mount Taylor period or Mount Taylor culture was a pre‑ceramic archaeological culture in northeastern Florida in the middle to late Archaic period. The Mount Taylor period lasted from approximately 5000 or 4000 BCE to 2000 BCE. Most archaeological sites associated with the culture are in the middle and upper parts of the St. Johns River valley, with related sites occurring along the east coast of Florida, and at a few other places in Florida. The Mount Taylor culture emerged from the regionally undifferentiated middle Archaic culture in Florida, and was succeeded by the late Archaic Orange period.

St. Johns culture Archaeological culture in North America

The St. Johns culture was an archaeological culture in northeastern Florida, USA that lasted from about 500 BCE until shortly after European contact in the 17th century. The St. Johns culture was present along the St. Johns River and its tributaries (including the Oklawaha River, and along the Atlantic coast of Florida from the mouth of the St. Johns River south to a point east of the head of the St. Johns River, near present-day Cocoa Beach, Florida. At the time of first European contact, the St. Johns culture area was inhabited by speakers of the Mocama, Agua Fresca and Acuera dialects of the Timucua language and by the Mayacas.

The Belle Glade culture, or Okeechobee culture, is an archaeological culture that existed from as early as 1000 BCE until about 1700 CE in the area surrounding Lake Okeechobee and in the Kissimmee River valley in the Florida Peninsula.

During the first Spanish colonial period the area around the Indian River, to the south of Cape Canaveral, was occupied by the Ais people, while the area around the Mosquito Lagoon, to the north of the Cape, was occupied by the Surruque people. The Surruque were allied with the Ais, but it is not clear whether the Surruque spoke a Timucua language, or a language related to the Ais language. [6]

Spanish Florida Former Spanish possession in North America

Spanish Florida was the first major European land claim and attempted settlement in North America during the European Age of Discovery. La Florida formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire during Spanish colonization of the Americas. While its boundaries were never clearly or formally defined, the territory was much larger than the present-day state of Florida, extending over much of what is now the southeastern United States, including all of present-day Florida plus portions of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and southeastern Louisiana. Spain's claim to this vast area was based on several wide-ranging expeditions mounted during the 16th century. A number of missions, settlements, and small forts existed in the 16th and to a lesser extent in the 17th century; eventually they were abandoned due to pressure from the expanding English and French colonial projects, the collapse of the native populations, and the general difficulty in becoming agriculturally or economically self-sufficient. By the 18th century, Spain's control over La Florida did not extend much beyond its forts, all located in present-day Florida: near St. Augustine, St. Marks, and Pensacola.

Indian River (Florida) Waterway in Florida, United States

The Indian River is a 121-mile (195 km) long brackish lagoon in Florida, and is part of the Indian River Lagoon system, which in turn forms part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Ais people tribe of Native Americans who inhabited the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

The Ais or Ays were a Native American people of eastern Florida. Their territory included coastal areas and islands from approximately Cape Canaveral to the Indian River. The Ais chiefdom consisted of a number of towns, each led by a chief who was subordinate to the paramount chief of Ais; the Indian River was known as the "River of Ais" to the Spanish. The Ais language has been linked to the Chitimacha language by linguist Julian Granberry, who points out that "Ais" means "the people" in the Chitimacha language.

In the early 16th century, Cape Canaveral was noted on maps, although without being named. It was named by Spanish explorers in the first half of the 16th century as Cabo Cañareal. The name "Canaveral" ( Cañaveral in Spanish, meaning "reed bed" or "sugarcane plantation") is the third oldest surviving European place name in the US. [note 1] The first application of the name, according to the Smithsonian Institution, was from the 1521–1525 explorations of Spanish explorer Francisco Gordillo. [8] A point of land jutting out into an area of the Atlantic Ocean with swift currents, it became a landing spot for many shipwrecked sailors. An early alternative name was "Cape of Currents". By at least 1564, the name appeared on maps. [8]

English privateer John Hawkins and his journalist John Sparke gave an account of their landing at Cape Canaveral in the 16th century. [9] A Presbyterian missionary was wrecked here and lived among the Indians. [10] Other histories tell of French survivors from Jean Ribault's colony at Fort Caroline, whose ship the Trinité wrecked on the shores of Cape Canaveral in 1565, and built a fort from its timbers. [11] [ citation needed ]

In December 1571, Pedro Menéndez was wrecked off the Coast of Cape Canaveral and encountered the Ais Indians. [12] From 1605 to 1606, the Spanish Governor of Florida Pedro de Ibarra sent Alvaro Mexia on a diplomatic mission to the Ais Indian nation. The mission was a success; diplomatic ties were made and an agreement for the Ais to receive ransoms for all the shipwrecked sailors they returned. [12]

The first Cape Canaveral Lighthouse was completed in January 1848 to warn ships of the coral shoals off the coast. [13]

The hurricane of August 1885, pushed a "wall of water" over the barrier island (elevation, 10 feet (3.0 m)) devastating Cape Canaveral and adjacent areas. The ocean waves flooded the homesteaders and discouraged further settlement in the area. The beach near the lighthouse was severely eroded prompting its relocation one mile (1.6 km) west inland. [14]

The 1890 graduating class of Harvard University started a gun club called the "Canaveral Club" at the Cape. [note 2] This was founded by C.B. Horton of Boston and George H. Reed. A number of distinguished visitors including presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison were reported to have stayed here. In the 1920s, the grand building fell in disrepair and later burned to the ground. [15]

In the 20th century, several communities sprang up in Cape Canaveral with names like Canaveral, Canaveral Harbor, Artesia and De Soto Beach. While the area was predominantly a farming and fishing community, some visionaries saw its potential as a resort for vacationers. However, the stock market crash of 1929 hampered its development. [16]

In the 1930s, a group of wealthy journalists started a community called "Journalista Beach", now called Avon by the Sea. The Brossier brothers built houses in this area and started a publication entitled the Evening Star Reporter that was the forerunner of the Orlando Sentinel . [17]

Construction of Port Canaveral for military and commercial purposes was started in July 1950 and dedicated on November 4, 1953. [18] Congress approved the construction of a deep-water port in 1929, half a century after it was first petitioned by the U.S. Navy in 1878. It is now the major deep-water port of Central Florida. [19]

Rocket launch site

Cape Canaveral with Kennedy Space Center shown in white; Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in green Merritt Island.jpg
Cape Canaveral with Kennedy Space Center shown in white; Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in green

Cape Canaveral became the test site for missiles when the legislation for the Joint Long Range Proving Ground was passed by the 81st Congress and signed by President Harry Truman on May 11, 1949. Work began on May 9, 1950, under a contract with the Duval Engineering Company of Jacksonville, Florida, to build the Cape's first paved access road and its first permanent launch site. [18]

The first rocket launched at the Cape was a V-2 rocket named Bumper 8 from Launch Complex 3 on July 24, 1950. On February 6, 1959, the first successful test firing of a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile was accomplished. NASA's Project Mercury and Gemini space flights were launched from Cape Canaveral, as were Apollo flights using the Saturn I and Saturn IB rockets. [20]

Cape Canaveral was chosen for rocket launches to take advantage of the Earth's rotation. The linear velocity of the Earth's surface is greatest towards the equator; the relatively southerly location of the cape allows rockets to take advantage of this by launching eastward, in the same direction as the Earth's rotation. It is also highly desirable to have the downrange area sparsely populated, in case of accidents; an ocean is ideal for this. [21] The east coast of Florida has logistical advantages over potential competing sites. [18] The Spaceport Florida Launch Complex 46 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is the easternmost near the tip of the cape. [21]

Name changes

A post office in the area was built and listed in the U.S. Post Office application as "Artesia" and retained this name from 1893 to 1954. [22] It was "Port Canaveral" from 1954 to 1962, and lastly the City of Cape Canaveral from 1962 to 1963, when a larger post office was built.

Cape Kennedy

From 1963 to 1973, the area had a different name when President Lyndon Johnson by executive order renamed the area "Cape Kennedy" after President John F. Kennedy, who had set the goal of landing on the moon. After Kennedy's assassination in November 1963, his widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, suggested to President Johnson that renaming the Cape Canaveral facility would be an appropriate memorial. Johnson recommended the renaming of the entire cape, announced in a televised address six days after the assassination, on Thanksgiving evening. [23] [24] [25] [26] Accordingly, Cape Canaveral was officially renamed Cape Kennedy. [21] [27] Kennedy's last visit to the space facility was on November 16, six days before his death; [28] [29] [30] the final Mercury mission had concluded six months earlier.

Although the name change was approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names of the Department of the Interior in December 1963, [31] it was not popular in Florida from the outset, [27] [32] [33] especially in the bordering city of Cape Canaveral. In 1973, the Florida Legislature passed a law in May restoring the former 400-year-old name, [34] [35] and the Board went along. The name restoration to Cape Canaveral became official on October 9, 1973. [36] Senator Ted Kennedy had stated in 1970 that it was a matter to be decided by the citizens of Florida. [33] The Kennedy family issued a letter stating they "understood the decision," and NASA's Kennedy Space Center retains the "Kennedy" name. [21]

The Gemini, [37] Apollo, [38] and first Skylab missions were all launched from "Cape Kennedy." [39] The first manned launch under the restored name of "Cape Canaveral" was the final Skylab mission, on November 16, 1973. [40] [41]


  1. Florida was named earlier, April 2, 1513, by Ponce de Leon, whose men also named Las Tortugas, now Dry Tortugas. From the account by Spanish historian Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, published in 1601. [7]
  2. The 1865 Jules Verne novel From the Earth to the Moon located its "Baltimore Gun Club" which sent the mission to the Moon about 100 miles away. Mike Gruntman (2004). Blazing the Trail: The Early History Spacecraft and Rocketry. Library of Flight. Reston, VA: International Academy of Aeronautics and Astronautics. p. 302. ISBN   978-1563477058.

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  2. "3-2-1, Call Cape Canaveral". New York Times . The New York Times Company. November 23, 1999. p. 6. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  3. "Cargo Destinations Locator Map" (PDF). Port Canaveral Official Website. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  4. Zimmerman, Vera. "The First Settlers, 10,000 BC to 1820" Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on August 11, 2007
  5. Milanich, Jerald T. (1994). Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. pp. 887–95, 244–247. ISBN   0-8130-1273-2.
  6. Hann, John H. (2003). Indians of Central and South Florida 1513–1763. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. p. 6. ISBN   0-8130-2645-8.
  7. Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: An Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. pp. 11–13.
  8. 1 2 "The History of Cape Canaveral, Chapter 1: Cape Canaveral Before Rockets (B.C.–1948)". Spaceline, Inc. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  9. Chatelain, Verne E (1941), The defenses of Spanish Florida: 1565 to 1763, Carnegie Institution of Washington publication, Nr. 511, Carnegie Institution, p. 10, OCLC   603544979
  10. Ranson, Robert (1989), East Coast Florida Memoirs 1837 to 1886 (reprint ed.), Florida Classics Library, ISBN   9780912451091
  11. Osborne 2008, p. 3.
  12. 1 2 Rouse, Irving. Survey of Indian River Archaeology. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 45. ISBN   978-0-404-15668-8.
  13. "Img_0338 (Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Florida heritage marker)" Archived June 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine . Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation. Retrieved on November 10, 2012.
  14. Williams, John M. and Duedall, Iver W. "Florida Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, Revised Edition" (from National Sea Grant Digital Library) Archived April 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine , pg. 7. University Press of Florida.
  15. Osborne 2008, pp. 18–20.
  16. Osborne 2008, pp. 39–42.
  17. Osborne 2008, p. 40.
  18. 1 2 3 "Evolution of the 45th Space Wing" Archived June 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . Patrick Air Force Base Official Website. Retrieved on October 13, 2013.
  19. "A Proud History" Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine . Port Canaveral Official Website. Retrieved on October 13, 2013.
  20. Lethbridge, Clifford J. (2013). "Cape Canaveral Launch Chronology, From July 1950 to September 2013". Retrieved on October 13, 2013.
  21. 1 2 3 4 "Historical Programs – Cape Canaveral – The Cape Canaveral Name". Kennedy Space Center Official Website. Retrieved on October 13, 2013. Archived from the original on October 6, 2013. [ better source needed ]
  22. Osborne 2008, p. 42
  23. "It's Cape Kennedy now". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). Associated Press. November 29, 1963. p. 1.
  24. Webb, Alvin B., Jr. (November 29, 1963). "Cape Canaveral now Cape Kennedy". Eugene Register-Guard. (Florida). UPI. p. 4A.
  25. Warden, Philip (November 29, 1963). "Canaveral renamed for John F. Kennedy". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 1.
  26. "Cape's space center named for Kennedy". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 1963. p. 3, sec. 1.
  27. 1 2 "Cape Kennedy remains despite the opposition". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). Associated Press. December 8, 1963. p. 7A.
  28. "JFK views test firing of Polaris". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. November 16, 1963. p. 1A.
  29. "Kennedy watches firing". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (Florida). UPI. November 17, 1963. p. 1.
  30. Young, Robert (November 17, 1963). "Stage missile show at Cape for Kennedy". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 1.
  31. Osborne 2008, p. 88.
  32. "Canaveral's name change isn't simple". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. November 30, 1963. p. 3, sec. 1.
  33. 1 2 "Senators ask for Canaveral". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). Associated Press. November 26, 1970. p. 17.
  34. "House approves renaming Cape Kennedy". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). May 19, 1973. p. 2A.
  35. Fla. S.B. 217, ch. 73-369 (1973)
  36. Lethbridge, Clifford J. "Cape History". Retrieved on March 23, 2011.
  37. "Gemini success spurs space hopes". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. April 9, 1964. p. 2A.
  38. "Astronaut says: 'Little late, but good show!'". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 7, 1972. p. 1A.
  39. "Skylab linkup due today". Eugene-Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire services. July 28, 1973. p. 1A.
  40. "Skylab astronauts set for 9:01 launch today". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Florida). November 16, 1973. p. 1A.
  41. "Third Skylab crew fired aloft". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 16, 1973. p. 1.