What do the state of Michigan and the space age have in common? Apparently a lot more than we thought. Lying at the northern tip of Michigan's lower peninsula in a remote area void of traffic and well...roads, lies a trail leading to what was once was a busy launch pad NASA once used for launching rockets. Yep, the kind of rockets that require a launch pad.

Today the area is called the Keweenaw Rocket Range and this launch pad was once used and served as a kind of home base for research projects between NASA and Michigan Colleges and Universities..

"With lightning speed, the second of the University of Michigan rocket firings is shown within a fraction of a second timing," an article published by the Daily Mining Gazette On Dec. 8, 1965 reads. "...Lake Superior was calm with only a gentle lapping of the waves against the shoreline of rocks, pebbles and stray driftwood." -MLIVE

 

Courtesy Photo - Michigan Tech Archives

Although the Keweenaw Rocket range never received a call from space like "Houston, we have a problem" the site did serve as a great research facility as it worked on studying weather patterns and the skies above that would aid rocket science years later in places like Houston and the Kennedy Space Center.

Sites like Keweenaw were scattered throughout the U.S. and known as the Meteorological Rocket Network. The Keweenaw site was used for research up until 1971.

"The fantastic thing about the sounding rockets is that they could reach the edge of space with a single mission," rocketry author Peter Alway said in an article logged in Michigan Tech University archives. On the other hand, the Apollo manned space mission was so huge and involved millions of people, most of whom didn't know much about the operation beyond their narrow technical part. With the research rocket use that was done in the U.P., it was understandable."

 

Courtesy Photo - Michigan Tech Archives

Author and historian Glen Swanson gives you the 411 in a book "Spaceport Michigan: When Rockets Flew from the Great Lakes State,"  and according to Swanson an Arcas rocket weighing 76 pounds was launched toward the sky over Lake Superior at 7:07 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1964.

NASA loved the northern Michigan location because of the small population and its central location and proximity to the mid-west.

Guess that's as close as we'll get to being a Kennedy Space Center but still glad to know our proud state did its part in preparing the United States to some future space travel.  E.T. would be proud.

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