CCSFM IS THE MUSEUM COVERING THE BULK OF THE LAUNCH FACILITIES IN FLORIDA
Most people think of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the Apollo missions, Space Shuttle launches and many current rockets fly as a single monolith. However, that area is divided into two halves by a geographic boundary. One side is civilian and run by NASA, the other side is run by the US Space Force but also has private space companies operating from there.
The barrier islands along the east coast of Florida, north of Cocoa Beach, includes the town of Cape Canaveral and north of that has the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. To the west side of that island is the Banana river, which separate CCSFS from Merritt Island where NASA owns Kennedy Space Center. Merritt Island is in turn separated from the mainland by the Indian river on its west edge and of course the Banana river on the east side.
NASA currently owns two launch pads from its facility, 39A and 39B, using one for missions such as Artemis and leasing the other to SpaceX. From those two pads they have launched a couple hundred rockets in their history. Cape Canaveral SFS has launched more than 8000 times from its many launch complexes on their side, and also leases some pads to SpaceX, Blue Origin, Relativity and other private firms.
In addition to testing most of the defense department missile systems over the years, CCSFS supported the US Space Program up until the Saturn V based Apollo missions launched. The first Apollo missions flew from CCSFS, as did all the Mercury and Gemini flights plus the vast majority of all satellites soared from here.
The museum has one part outside the security gates in the Port Canaveral area, Sands History Center, plus several facilities inside the perimeter. There are few ways to get a tour inside the secured area, but for most of the public, Sands History Center is the portion they see.
Inside the military controlled area there is our primary museum location at Space Launch Complex 26. This is a blockhouse with two launch pads where the first US satellite, Explorer 1, was launched as well as a number of other missions. We also have an exhibit hall building adjacent. To the south we have SLC 5 & 6 where the first two crewed Mercury flights - Shepard and Grissom - took place. The blockhouse and pads are available for visits.
Quite a few rockets are stored for viewing inside Hangar C, which was in spite of its name the first hangar built on the Cape Canaveral missile range (the first two were at nearby Patrick Space Force Base south of Cocoa Beach). The latest artifact added to the collection is a major portion of the Titan missile that launched Gemini 5 with Gordo Cooper and Pete Conrad in the capsule.
Just to round out the pads involved in the remainder of the crewed space program: SLC 14 launched the orbital Mercury missions include John Glenn's on an Atlas rocket. SLC 19 launched all of the Gemini missions atop Titan rockets. SLC 34 launched the early Apollo flights atop Saturn 1B boosters, but the only two crewed capsules there were the Apollo 1 team who perished in the fire atop the pad and the Apollo 7 crew. From that point forward activity moved to the Kennedy Space Center side on SLC 39A and 39B.
After a long wait for a security clearance, I received my badge granting me access to both the Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center. While my primary purpose in volunteering is to do restorations, historical examinations and visitor animations of the equipment in the museum locations, I decided to train for giving tours so that I could pitch in with scheduling pinches and know more about the museum.
TRAINING FOR LEADING TOURS AND ANSWERING VISITOR QUESTIONS
Many of the docents leading tours worked for aerospace contractors, served in rocket related activities in the Air Force, or conducted launch activities at the Cape. They have a very strong background in the entire history of the missile programs whereas most of my prior knowledge was only about the crewed programs.
I have quite a bit of studying to do on the evolution of rocketry, such as the German WWII V2 becoming Redstone, which became Jupiter-C and Juno, and so forth. There is a significant amount of reuse (with improvements) of engines, airframes and a number of competing programs across the various armed forces that I have to understand.
After training as a group, I am now shadowing the docents as they lead live tours for visitors, making sure I am ready to be tested and certified to lead my own tours. Once done, my activities at the CCSFM will be only a few days a month and I can devote the bulk of my time to vintage computer activities.