The Luigi Broglio Space Center (BSC) located near Malindi, Kenya, is an Italian Space Agency (ASI) Spaceport. It was named after its founder and Italian space pioneer Luigi Broglio.[1] Developed in the 1960s through a partnership between the Sapienza University of Rome's Aerospace Research Centre and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the BSC served as a spaceport for the launch of both Italian and international satellites (1967–1988). The center comprises a main offshore launch site, known as the San Marco platform, as well as two secondary control platforms and a communications ground station on the mainland.

San Marco platform
The San Marco platform, with a Scout launch vehicle on the launch pad.
Launch siteSan Marco platform
LocationMalindi, Kenya
Coordinates2°56′18″S 40°12′45″E / 2.93833°S 40.21250°E / -2.93833; 40.21250
OperatorItalian Space Agency
(formerly Sapienza University of Rome and NASA)
Total launches27
Launch pad(s)2
Orbital inclination
San Marco launch history
First launch26 April 1967
Scout B
Last launch25 March 1988
Scout G-1
Santa Rita launch history
First launch25 March 1964
Last launch2 April 1964

In 2003, a legislative decree handed management of the center to ASI, beginning in 2004, and the name changed from the previous San Marco Equatorial Range.[2][3] While the ground station is still in use for satellite communications, the BSC is not currently used as a launch site.[4]

History edit

The San Marco platform was a former oil platform, located to the north of Cape Ras Ngomeni on the coastal sublittoral of Kenya, at 2°56′18″S 40°12′45″E / 2.93833°S 40.21250°E / -2.93833; 40.21250, close to the equator (which is an energetically favourable location for launches). Launches from the platform were controlled from the Santa Rita platform, a second former oil platform located southeast of the San Marco platform, and a smaller Santa Rita II housed the facility's radar. A ground station located on the cape forms the center's primary telemetry site.[3]

Broglio Space Center
Location of the BSC, just south of the equator (represented by the nearby town of Nanyuki)

The Italian space research program began in 1959 with the creation of the CRA (Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali) at the University of Rome. Three years later, on 7 September 1962, the university signed a memorandum of understanding with NASA to collaborate on a space research program named San Marco (St. Mark). The Italian launch team, trained by NASA, was to first launch a rocket from Wallops Island under NASA supervision and first launch successfully took off on 15 December 1964. The San Marco project was focused on the launching of scientific satellites by Scout launch vehicles from a mobile rigid platform located close to the equator. This station, composed of 3 oil platforms and two logistical support boats, was installed off the Kenya coast, close to the town of Malindi.

The program schedule included three phases:

  • Suborbital launches from Wallops Island and the equatorial platform,
  • Orbital launch of an experimental satellite from Wallops Island,
  • Orbital launches from the equatorial platform.

The San Marco launch platform complex was in use from March 1964 to March 1988, with a total of 27 launches, primarily sounding rockets including the Nike Apache, Nike Tomahawk, Arcas and Black Brant launchers. Low payload weight orbital launches were also made, using the solid-propellant Scout rocket (in its B, D and G subvariants). The first satellite specifically for X-ray astronomy, Uhuru, was launched from San Marco on a Scout B rocket on 12 December 1970.

The ground station is in use and continues to track ASI, ESA and NASA satellites, and Chinese crewed space missions.[5]

However, the two platforms fell into disrepair during the 1990s. Since then, ASI has conducted a feasibility study to reactivate it for the Russian launcher START-1.[a]

Satellite launches edit

Ariel 5 launch from San Marco Platform
Launch Date Vehicle Payload COSPAR ID Comments
26 April 1967 Scout B San Marco-2 1967-038A San Marco 1 had previously been launched from Wallops in the United States
12 December 1970 Scout B Uhuru (SAS-A) 1970-107A
24 April 1971 Scout B San Marco-3 1971-036A
15 November 1971 Scout B Small Scientific Satellite-A 1971-096A
15 November 1972 Scout D-1 SAS-B 1972-091A
18 February 1974 Scout D-1 San Marco-4 1974-009A
15 October 1974 Scout B-1 Ariel 5 1974-077A Satellite operations were directed from a control center at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, United Kingdom
7 May 1975 Scout F-1 SAS-C 1975-037A
25 March 1988 Scout G-1 San Marco-D/L 1988-026A

See also edit

Notes edit

  • a. ^ "Nel Marzo 2004, una Delegazione ASI e una Delegazione Russa sono state in visita al Centro Spaziale Luigi Broglio di Malindi, in Kenya, per verificare le condizioni tecniche di riutilizzo della base di lancio, mediante lanciatori russi, di tipo START-1. Il risultato della visita è stato estremamente positivo e le Parti hanno concordato sulla fattibilità di lancio dalle piattaforme marine."

(In March 2004, a delegation from ASI and a Russian delegation went to visit the Luigi Broglio Space Center in Malindi, Kenya, to verify the technical conditions of re-use of the launch site for use by Russian launchers of the type START-1. The result of the visit has been extremely positive and both parties have agreed on the feasibility of launching from the marine platform.)[6]

References edit

  1. ^ "The San Marco Project Research Centre". Centro di Ricerca Progetto San Marco – University of Rome "La Sapienza". Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Italian Space Agency". European Commission – CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service). Archived from the original on 6 January 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Space Primer – Chapter 20 – Rest-Of-World (ROW) Space Launch Systems" (PDF). United States Air Force Air University. August 2003. p. 21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2010.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "Malindi station". European Space Agency. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  5. ^ John Njoroge Kimani (8 December 2017). "The Kenya Space Agency Research Agenda" (PDF). Kenya Space Agency.
  6. ^ "Piano AeroSpaziale Nationale 2006–2008" (PDF) (in Italian). Italian Space Agency. p. 69. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2010.

External links edit