Rocket Launch Sites
San Marco Launch Platform
2° 56' 18' S, 40° 12' 45' E
Credit: NASA/Courtesy of John Ives and John Raymont
Scout-B1 rocket with Ariel 5 satellite on the San Marco launch platform in Oct. 1974 (NASA) View of the San Marco platform. The Scout rocket carrying Ariel V is in place and everything is ready to go. Perfect day for launch. The clock is ticking ..
San Marco Platform
Operator: Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali, NASA

The San Marco Platform (also known as Luigi Broglio Space Centre after its founder Luigi Broglio) is a spaceport platform on an old oil platform near Kenya, developed in the 1960 through a partnership between the Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali at the University of Rome La Sapienza and NASA to serve as a launch pad for Italian spacecraft. While still in existence, it is not currently used as a launch site.

It was a former oil platform, located to the north of Cape Ras Ngomeni on the coastal sublittoral of Kenya, close to the equator (which is an energetically favourable location for rocket launches). Launches from the platform were controlled from the Santa Rita platform, a second former oil platform located southeast of the San Marco platform.

The Italian space research program began in 1959 with the creation of the CRA (Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali) at the University of Rome. Three years later, on 7 September 1962, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA to collaborate on a space research program named San Marco (St. Mark). The Italian launch team, trained by NASA, was to first launch a rocket from Wallops Island under NASA supervision and first launch successfully took off on 16 December 1964. The San Marco project was focused on the launching of scientific satellites by Scout rockets from a floating mobile station located close to the equator. This station, composed of two oil platforms and two logistical support boats, was installed off the Kenya coast, close to the town of Malindi.

The program schedule included three phases:

  • suborbital launches from Wallops Island and the equatorial platform,
  • orbital launch of an experimental satellite from Wallops Island,
  • orbital launches from the equatorial platform.
The San Marco launch platform complex was in use from March 1964 to March 1988, with a total of 27 launches, primarily sounding rockets including the Nike Apache, Nike Tomahawk, Arcas and Black Brant launchers. Low payload weight orbital launches were also made, using the solid-propellantScout rocket (in its B, D and G subvariants). The first satellite specifically for X-ray astronomy, Uhuru, was launched from San Marco on a Scout B rocket on 12 December 1970.

The ground segment is in use and continues to track NASA, ESA and Italian satellites. However, the two platforms fell into disrepair during the 1990s. Recently, the Italian Space Agency has conducted a feasibility study to reactivate it for the Russian launcher START-1.

SOURCE: Wikipedia San Marco Platform

Santa Rita Platform
Credit: NASA/Courtesy of John Ives and John Raymont
View of the Santa Rita platform, from the boat. It is the day of the launch.
Related Links:
San Marco Launch Platform
2° 56' 18' S, 40° 12' 45' E
Nice shade of Alien Green... but no look at the launch platform
Santa Rita Platform Control Room
Credit: NASA/Courtesy of John Ives and John Raymont
There are two platforms at the launch site in Kenya, San Marco and Santa Rita, a few km apart. On the Santa Rita platform is located the experimenters test room (shown in the picture). Santa Rita is the closest view site to the San Marco launch platform.
Ariel 5
Credit: NASA/Courtesy of John Ives and John Raymont
Ariel V carried many experiments. A set of four were co-aligned with the spin-axis monitoring a small field of the X-ray sky. Other two experiments, All-Sky Monitor (ASM) and the Sky-Survey Instrument (SSI), were instead as their names suggest, dedicated to monitoring wider region of the X-ray sky. The picture shows a technician working on the Ariel V
Ariel 5 Launch
October 15, 1974
Credit: NASA/Courtesy of John Ives and John Raymont
Lift off ! It's October 15. 1974 Ariel V was a UK-USA collaboration. It operated till the spring of 1980 and it was dedicated to monitoring the X-ray sky. 
 High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) 

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is the primary archive for NASA missions dealing with extremely energetic phenomena, from black holes to the Big Bang. Having recently merged with the Legacy Archive for Microwave Background Data Analysis (LAMBDA), it includes data obtained by NASA's high-energy astronomy missions from the extreme ultraviolet through gamma-ray bands, along with missions that study the relic cosmic microwave background.

   Fermi (formerly GLAST)
   Rossi XTE
   BeppoSAX    CGRO
   HEAO-3    HETE-2
   OSO-7    OSO-8
   ROSAT    SAS-2
   SAS-3    TENMA


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