Historical Pictorials
Historic 1971 Keweenaw Rocket Launch
Two NIKE-APACHE rockets were fired off from the Keweenaw Missile Range as a part of the IGY, International Geophysical Year, in a coordinated launch with other NASA facilities in North America. Although other research sounding rockets had been fired from the Keweenaw Range in years previous, these were by far the largest rockets fired.
These pictures were made by Roland Burgan, General Manager/News Director for WHDF (now WCCY), over two trips made over two consecutive days, Thursday, Jan. 28th, and Friday, Jan. 29th, 1971. Accompanying was a brother, Read Burgan, then Gen. Mgr. of WGGL-FM (PBS station at MTU). Here, Read Burgan, at road warning sign 2 miles E. Of Copper Harbor. Preparations started in 1970, but took until January, 1971, to bring things to readiness. Here, the road entrance to the NASA/U of M Missile Launch Complex. The winter of 1970/71 brought 279.7 inches of snow to the Houghton County Airport, and well over 300 inches to the Keweenaw. Bulldozers opened the 8 miles of road to Copper Harbor most of the time, but sometimes only snowmobiles could get through. Having finally arrived, some of the tracking antennas. The first launch had been set for Thursday, but was postponed at the last minute by uncooperative high altitude winds. The launch occurred at noon on Friday, Jan. 29th, with temperatures hovering at a frosty -20 deg. F. A NASA equipment van and more telemetry antennas.
Read Burgan interviews Dr. Allen (Univ. of Michigan), who headed up the research team. Electronic equipment racks, which filled a number of vans. More electronics and data recording equipment. Another view of some of the multitude of NASA telemetry and data recording gear.
And still more equipment. Roland B. Burgan gets rundown on Missile Status & Missile Launch Control Console. NASA technicians check equipment prior to noon launch. The rocket storage, setup, and fueling shed, also where payloads are monitored and checked out.
Rocket payload checkout equipment. Nike-Apache rocket (fueled), from the Nike-Ajax booster end. The Ajax booster was fueled with with a solid propellant. Nike-Apache from the payload end. Waiting for rocket telemetry data following the launch. The rocket peaked out at 118 miles high over Lake Superior.
The post flight conference in Copper Harbor, with Dr. Allen (L). The second launch would take place Sunday, Jan. 31st. And the launch...what a blast! The heat melted the 3 ft. deep snow to within 100 feet of me. One interesting note...about 20 seconds after launch, more birds suddenly appeared overhead than had ever been seen before...they literally blacked out the sky for nearly a minute.
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