Keweenaw (Rocket launch site)
The Keweenaw rocket launch site was an isolated launch pad located in U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Michigan’s
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 Keweenaw Peninsula
Keweenaw Peninsula
The Keweenaw Peninsula is the northern-most part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It projects into Lake Superior and was the site of the first copper boom in the United States. As of the 2000 census, its population was roughly 43,200...

. It was used between 1964 and 1971 for launching rockets for meteorological data collection. NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 along with the University of Michigan conducted the project under the lead of Dr. Harold Allen. The site was one of six other similar ones scattered about North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 that were to collect measurements of:
electron density, positive ion composition and distribution, energetic electron precipitation, solar X-rays, and Lyman alpha flux.

One of the other well known sites was Wallops Island
Wallops Island
Wallops Island is a island off the east coast of Virginia, part of the barrier islands that stretch along the eastern seaboard of the United States of America.It is located in Accomack County, Virginia...

, Virginia. The collected data was later to be compared to the five other sites.

Smaller rockets

In the early stages of the project, Smaller rockets were launched off a floating buoy between the on-land rocket site and Manitou Island
Manitou Island (Lake Superior)
Manitou Island is a small island in Lake Superior, off the northeastern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.S. state of Michigan. Located approximately three miles from the mainland, it encompasses around . Manitou has seen limited impact from human activity, due to its remote location and the...

, about 2.5 miles (4 km) off shore. These smaller rockets were commonly known as Mighty Mouse rockets for they were only a few feet tall and had folding fins. There were approximately 50 of these rockets launched from the floating buoy.

Larger rockets

There were two types of larger rockets launched from the site, Arcas
Arcas (rocket)
Arcas — also designated ARCAS — was the designation of an American sounding rocket, which was launched between July 31, 1959 and August 9, 1991 at least 421 times. The Arcas has a maximum flight altitude of 52 kilometers, a takeoff thrust of 1.5 kN, a takeoff weight of 34 kilograms, and a...

 at about six feet and the much larger Nike Apache
Nike Apache
The Nike Apache was a two-stage sounding rocket used by NASA to loft instruments into the upper atmosphere. The Nike Apache was launched 636 times between 1961 and 1978...

 rockets. Both of these rockets were two stage rockets that could carry a substantial payload. The Nike Apache rockets weighed about 1700 lb (771.1 kg), were over 28 feet (8.5 m) tall and reached an altitude of almost 100 miles (160.9 km).

Project WEBROC

In 1965 the Keweenaw site was utilized for a project called WEBROC. The goal of project WEBROC was to be able to set up a system of buoys, containing rocket launchers, in the ocean to obtain weather information. The small rockets would contain payloads of various instrumentations. The rockets that were used on the buoy were small 2.75-inch folding-fin rockets called “Mighty Mouse.” The rockets were to be housed in an enclosed launcher to help protect it from the elements. This being the case developers needed to know if the rockets could be launched from a closed-breech launcher. This was the testing that was done at the Keweenaw Rocket Launch Site


The site is still accessible to visitors. Little remains there other than a concrete pad with an iron rail attached to it but the view of Lake Superior and Manitou Island is spectacular from the site. The coordinates of the site are 47°25′48"N 87°43′1"W. To get to the site drive north on US 41
U.S. Route 41
U.S. Route 41 is a north–south United States Highway that runs from Miami, Florida to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Until 1949, the part in southern Florida, from Naples to Miami, was U.S...

 up to Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor, Michigan
Copper Harbor is a small unincorporated community in northeastern Keweenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is within Grant Township on the Keweenaw Peninsula that juts from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan into Lake Superior.-History:...

. In Copper Harbor, turn right at the blinking traffic signal and proceed about 5 miles (8 km) to the end of US 41. There is a seasonal road (not plowed in winter seasons) that begins here. Take this road about 4.5 miles (7.2 km), and turn left onto an ATV trail. This trail is impossible to pass by car and is best done by foot, mountain bike, or ATV. Down the trail there is a fork to the left. Take this, and shortly after you will find the site.

The project was originally proposed by the University of Michigan’s Institute of Science and Technology. The rocket launchings were to be part of the Meteorological Rocket Network and the main goal of the project was to gather inland weather data. Three University of Michigan professors along with two Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University is a public research university located in Houghton, Michigan, United States. Its main campus sits on on a bluff overlooking Portage Lake...

professors and two employees from the White Sands missile range were the minimum crew for the missile range.

External links

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