Little Known Spaceport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Once Launched Rockets into Space
At the very tip of Michigan's remote Keweenaw Peninsula, is a site that was once instrumental in space exploration, the Keweenaw Rocket Range.
Today east of Copper Harbor about 5 miles past the end of US 41 down rutty seasonal roads, the site is not much more than a large concrete slab. According to CopperCountyExplorer.com, who has visited the site,
The rocket range operated for just under a decade, between 1962 and 1971. Dozens of rockets were fired from the site during its lifetime, including two of the large Nike-Apache rockets noted earlier. After those launches, however, the site would never be used again. The structures were removed from and the land abandoned shortly after. In the forty years since, the site still remains just as remote and inhospitable as it did when the rockets were firing. Visiting the old rocket range requires a long and slow drive along a rather worn and washed out dirt road from the end of US41 for nearly a dozen miles to the peninsula’s tip.
The rocket site was dreamed up by professors from the University of Michigan. They, along with faculty from Michigan Tech in nearby Houghton as well as NASA staffers from White Sands were on-hand to conduct the launches.
The site launched large payload-bearing rockets from land and smaller 'Mighty Mouse' rockets offshore in Lake Superior from a bouy.
FIND IT: NASA's Rocket Launch Monument in Northern Michigan
There is a small monument erected by NASA to mark the site's historic importance. The plaque reads,
The state of Michigan established a rocket range on this site which was used from 1964-1971. Michigan's first rocket to enter space was launched from this site on Jan 29, 1971. In tribute to the historic work done in the field of rocketry, this memorial stone was placed in the summer of 2000 by GT FFRC NASA
It's not an easy trek to get to the launch site (what trek in the UP is easy, anyway?). Beyond the end of US 41 past Copper Harbor then a 5-mile seasonal road followed by an ATV trail to the coastline.
Amazing Scenes from Space
While you're gazing skyward and imagining what once was for this remote section of the Upper Peninsula, check out these deep space images from NASA.