Lori C. Walters


"The Cape": for those old enough to recall the suspense of John Glenn's fireball reentry aboard Friendship 7, the name evokes the image of an inseparable triad-billowing rockets, towering gantries, and silvery astronauts. It was here along the eastern coast of Florida that the United States established its most noted launch facility at Cape Canaveral. Although missiles arose from the desert at White Sands and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, it was the Cape that held the imagination of the nation captive. Cape Canaveral, with its bright orange gantries lining sundrenched shores, was from where America's astronaut heroes engaged the then evil Soviets for domination of the Cold War heavens. Much has changed in the forty years since the flight of Friendship 7. John Glenn resigned from the space program for a career in politics. While Glenn did return to space, it was not a homecoming to the Cape; his 1998 journey began from the Kennedy Space Center. He was no longer the lone pilot atop a glistening Atlas rocket, he was now simply a passenger aboard the Space Transportation System better known as the shuttle. But what of the more silent participants in those years of nationalistic space races-the launch facilities at the Cape? A study of photographs between 1957 and 2003 reveals the life and death of Launch Complex 14 (LC 14) -launch site of the Free World's first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and man in orbit.