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Old 12-15-2016, 03:27 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
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Quoth Ravenman:

Vandenberg is used for certain satellites, but most US satellites require the use of launches from the Cape in Florida to put the thing in the right orbit.
It's even more other-way-around than that. You don't pick an orbit and then launch from Canaveral because that's what gets you the orbit you want; you pick Canaveral as your launch site and then take the orbit that that gives you. From any given launch site, the cheapest orbit has an inclination equal to the site's latitude (inclinations greater than the latitude are possible but more expensive, and inclinations less than the latitude are so expensive as to be nearly impossible, which is why the ISS is in a high-inclination orbit so that Russia and the US alike can reach it). And the lower that angle is, the cheaper. Meanwhile, you'd also like someplace without inhabited land to the east of it, in case of launch mishaps, and someplace that's easy to get to. Out of all places in the US, then, Florida is about the best available, if you don't care about what orbit you're in, and find Florida's latitude acceptable.

On the other hand, some missions need a polar orbit. It's equally easy to launch into a polar orbit from any point on Earth, so Vandenberg works just fine, and they happen to have a lot of infrastructure there, so that's what they usually use.