Ah, Florida! Land of oranges, alligators, and... rockets? That's right! Tucked away near the Everglades, there's a relic of the space race that many have forgotten, but its story is as fascinating as it is... explosive. Let's dive into the tale of the Aerojet Dade Rocket Facility and see if we can launch some interest in this forgotten piece of history. 🚀
In the early 1960s, the Aerojet company purchased a whopping 25,000 acres of land near Homestead, Florida. Their mission? To develop and test various types of rocket fuel to propel humans into the great unknown. The facility was equipped with two rocket silos, and during its heyday, it tested three different rocket types at full-burn. These static tests were crucial in determining the effectiveness of solid rocket fuel. In fact, the last rocket they tested was the largest solid-fuel rocket ever built. Talk about going out with a bang!
However, it wasn't all smooth sailing—or should I say, smooth launching? One of the tests resulted in the release of hydrochloric acids across the surrounding crops and wetlands. As you can imagine, this didn't make the facility the most popular neighbor in the Everglades community.
One of the most impressive feats of the Aerojet facility was the creation of the largest and longest canal found anywhere in the Everglades. This canal, stretching all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, was essential for transporting the incredibly heavy rockets by barge. Given that these rockets were designed as solid-fuel and weighed a ton (quite literally), no other method of transportation would do.
But here's the twist in our rocket tale: NASA decided to use liquid fuel for its manned launches. This decision left the Aerojet Dade Rocket Facility high and dry. As funding dwindled, the facility was abandoned, with its silos and buildings left to the mercy of time. Even the final SL-3 rocket was left in its silo, covered only with steel plates. Over the years, urban explorers have been drawn to the site, eager to uncover its secrets. However, recent efforts have seen many of the structures dismantled and the silos sealed, making it harder for adventurers to access.
Today, the Aerojet Dade Rocket Facility stands as a testament to the ambitions of a bygone era. It's a reminder of the lengths humanity went to in its quest to conquer space. And while the facility might be fading into history, its story remains a blast from the past.
A Few Nearby Attractions:
Robert Is Here: Just 9.38 miles away, this fruit superstore began as a young boy's cucumber stand and has since become a local legend.
Ed Leedskalnin's Coral Castle: Located 14.25 miles from the facility, this mysterious castle was built as a monument to lost love.
Fruit and Spice Park: A mere 15.27 miles away, this park is often referred to as the Garden of Eden in Miami-Dade County.
So, next time you're in Florida, why not take a detour from the usual tourist spots and embark on a journey through space history? And remember, while the rockets at Aerojet might not have taken off, your curiosity certainly will!
P.S. If you're planning a visit, please note that the Florida Wildlife Commission frequently monitors the site for trespassers. It's always best to admire history from a safe distance!