HIDDEN GEM: Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral Preserves Hardware, Spirit of United States’ Ventures Into Space
By Space Coast Daily // November 5, 2017
located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FLORIDA – The Air Force Space and Missile Museum, located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is a hidden gem that preserves both the hardware and the spirit of United States’ ventures into space.
The museum displays numerous missiles, rockets and related space equipment.
The primary mission is to collect, restore and exhibit items of historical significance which relate to the development and heritage of U.S. Air Force space launch activities.
This unique museum highlights the Air Force as a major participant in America’s space program and emphasizes activities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station beginning in early 1950 and continuing today.
The Museum Foundation provides funding for exhibit maintenance and museum operations. Tours and gift shop operations are provided by a group of dedicated volunteers.
Management for the entire museum operation is the responsibility of the Museum Director, who is a civilian employee of the 45th Space Wing.
Since opening to the public in 1966, the museum has introduced millions of visitors to the history of rocketry and space flight. The museum grounds encompass two adjoining launch complexes, Launch Complex 26 and Launch Complex 5/6.
Launch Complex 26 is the site of the first successful launch of an American satellite, Explorer I, in 1958 by the U.S. Army. Beginning with early Redstone, Jupiter and Juno flights in 1957, Launch Complex 26 hosted 36 launches until its deactivation in 1963.
Three primates, Gordo, Able and Miss Baker, were launched here in 1958 and 1959, paving the way for future manned space flights. Launch Complex 26 also served as the site of numerous Jupiter launches as part of NATO’s combat crew training program through the early 1960s.
Launch Complex 5/6 is the launch site for the earliest Project Mercury missions. It was from Pad 5 that the first two American astronauts, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, were launched into space during 1961.
VISIT THE MUSEUM
The museum at Launch Complex 26 is accessible to the general public via a special bus tour called “Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour” that originates from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The two and one-half hour tour includes a tour of the museum and stops at several historic sites on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The tour runs four days a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), launch schedule permitting. There is a fee for the tour, but admission to the museum is free. No Cape access pass is required.
The History Center contains historic information and displays for each Launch Complex (LC) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Photography is allowed and encouraged. Bring your lunch and enjoy the historic surroundings. Picnic tables, restrooms, gift shop and soft drink machine are on site.
ABOVE MAP: The Sands Space History Center, formerly known as The Air Force Space and Missile History Center, an extension of the museum, is located just outside the south gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. From Phillips Parkway, follow Lighthouse Road toward SLC-17 and look for the museum sign at Complex 26. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.