Yesterday we showed you a video created by satellite imaging company Planet of the launch of their most recent flock of Doves using a series of images they had captured from orbit. As we mentioned in that post, it was almost certainly a first for satellite imaging. After writing that post we were having a look around various Spaceports (also known as Cosmodromes) and came across this sight:
Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 4th, 2010
We can see a rocket on the launch pad with vapour streaming off it as if it has just been fuelled and the support structure (known as a strongback) is tilted back as if it is about to launch. However, after some research we discovered that it is, in fact, a test firing and not the actual launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The actual launch took place four days later on December 8th, 2010.
For more SpaceX related sights in Google Earth see this post.
Wikipedia lists the world’s Spaceports on this page but does not give coordinates. Those are provided as part of a longer list of rocket launch sites. We put the information into a KML file for you to view in Google Earth.
Of special note is Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, which is still under contruction:
Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia, under construction. 2007 vs 2016.
Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center features this rocket on display:
Unfortunately, some of the locations we were interested in do not have recent imagery. For example, the European Space Agency (ESA) launches from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana in South America. The most recent image of the key launchpads is from 2001. Also, SpaceX is building a private spaceport near Brownsville, Texas, but the imagery is from January 2016 before serious construction started.