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Land Transformed for 'Space'
07.13.07
 
Construction of intersection at 2nd Street and C Avenue Some may not think of NASA as a real estate mogul, but in September 1961, the agency's focus was on the purchase of "space." Eighty thousand acres of Florida land were needed for the creation of a large complex to support manned launches using the Saturn and Nova boosters already in their conceptual stages.

Image left: An aerial view of road construction for the intersection of 2nd Street and C Avenue in the center's industrial area. Photo credit NASA/KSC
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The property lay north and west of the U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center facilities at Cape Canaveral. Numerous privately owned homes and businesses were situated on the tract on Merritt Island. Approximately 50 homes comprised the Sunrise Beach housing development, near the location of Pad 41 today.

Space program employees Charlie and June Buchanan purchased a home in Sunrise Beach in 1959. Charlie transferred from Baltimore with the Martin Company on the Pershing project.

In the ensuing 48 years, he has remained an aerospace contractor and is currently with Space Gateway Support.

Former Canaveral Beach Center business He recalled: "My daughter was born in 1960 while we were living in Sunrise Beach. When I visited the home site a few years ago, I could still make out her initials carved in the cement of the driveway. Twenty miles was a significant distance. We only drove into Titusville twice a week: to the grocery store on Fridays and to church on Sundays."

Image right: This business across from Sunrise Beach provided the community with groceries and services to families did not have to drive to Titusville. Photo credit NASA/KSC
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June began her NASA career in Public Affairs. Retired since 1995, "Sunrise Beach was an active community of young families," June said. "At its main entrance was a little restaurant where you could also buy milk and bread between trips into town."

ASRC Aerospace Corp.'s Terry Greenfield relocated from Huntsville, Ala., with the Redstone program in 1956 and still works in the space program 51 years later. He recalled: "There was a barber shop, too. After NASA purchased the property, arrangements were made for the barber to continue cutting hair from a trailer installed beside the Engineering and Laboratory Building. I appreciated NASA's efforts to keep him in business."

Construction of the crawlerway at Kennedy Space Center One of Greenfield's assignments was with the NASA team analyzing the mobile launch platform concept. " 'How do you best distribute the weight of the mobile launcher with the stacked vehicle on it?' was the question," Greenfield said. "Use of a crawler transporter, rather than a railway or a barge, was the most practical solution because you could spread the weight over its shoes."

Image left: This is how the crawlerway looked under construction in April of 1964. At the top of the photo shows open space where the Vehicle Assembly Building would eventually be built. Photo credit: NASA/KSC
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All of the buildings were eventually removed to make way for the new launch pads and supporting infrastructure. Dredged fill from the Banana River and surrounding area was used to alleviate the swampy conditions in the Launch Complex 39 area as site preparation began in 1962.

 
 
Kay Grinter
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center