February 23, 2020

Florida launch base to be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station


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Two reusable rocket boosters land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after the successful launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket with the Arabsat 6A satellite April 12, 2019. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by James Rainier

The military-run spaceport at Cape Canaveral will soon be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to reflect the facility’s transition from the U.S. Air Force to the newly-created Space Force, military officials said Friday.

Officials said Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, home operational launch pads leased by United Launch Alliance and SpaceX, and nearby Patrick Air Force Base south of Cocoa Beach, Florida, will both get new names.

Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, commander of the 45th Space Wing which oversees Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, said Friday that the two installations on the Space Coast will be among the first military facilities in the country receiving new names after the creation of the Space Force in December.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, while Patrick Air Force Base — home to staff and other units supporting launch operations at the spaceport — will be renamed Patrick Space Force Base.

Jim Williams, a 45th Space Wing spokesperson, said commanders will receive a date for the name change within the next 30 days. A renaming ceremony could happen soon after that milestone.

Other military facilities with units operating under the umbrella of the Space Force could also eventually be renamed. President Trump — an advocate for creating the new military branch — signed legislation establishing the Space Force on Dec. 20, and units managed by Air Force Space Command were transferred over to the Space Force.

More than 15,000 military, civilian and contractor personnel work at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base, which are home to the Eastern Range, a network of tracking, safety, security and other infrastructure designed to support launch operations from the Space Coast.

Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is headquarters for the Western Range, which primarily hosts launches into polar orbit.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In addition to ULA and SpaceX’s operational launch facilities, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is also home to launch pads being developed by Blue Origin, Firefly Aerospace and Relativity Space.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was named Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex in the early days of the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was named Cape Kennedy Air Force Station after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, when Cape Canaveral itself was renamed Cape Kennedy.

The name reverted back to Cape Canaveral in 1973, and the military base was redesignated Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Air Force Space Command issued an order in 1992 striking the name “Force” from Air Force stations, and the spaceport became known as Cape Canaveral Air Station. The order was reversed in 2000, and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station name returned.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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