UCF students excavate the first launch site on the Cape ahead of the 75th anniversary

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Using a hand-held scanner, Jorge Gonzalez meticulously maneuvered through an archaeological network of white threads and metal pins, creating a 3D digital map of a newly dug steel-mat corridor that led to the long-demolished Bumper Building.

Military technicians marching along the entrance to Marston's Matt made history on July 24, 1950, by entering the tarpaulin hut and using massive electronics to fire Bumper 8. The first American missile flies into the sky From what is now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

“We're documenting this using 3D techniques,” said Travis Doering, co-director of the Center for Digital Heritage and Geospatial Information at the University of South Florida. “For something like this, we use what's called a structured near-field scanner.” “, pointing to the entrance.

“This was the first fort ever built here. It was built as a temporary building made of wood,” Doering said.

“Almost no information has been documented” about this “firing room,” said Tom Benders, director of cultural resources at Space Launch Delta 45. The Army hastily built the wooden structure in May and June 1950 about 400 feet from the pad at the long-abandoned Launch Complex 3, according to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum website.

Bumper 8 was a pioneering two-stage, 62-foot experimental rocket: a German V-2 rocket coupled to an American WAC Corporal rocket. The sandbagged building features a periscope-like window with reflective mirrors so technicians can see the platform.

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“From this early step evolved such giant strides as satellite orbits, the Saturn 5 missions to the Moon, space shuttle launches, the International Space Station, and extrasolar probes,” Florida Today reported in July 2000. Editors' Column Celebrating 50th Anniversary To launch.

“we are in Florida today He thinks – We know – The launch of Bumper 8 has had a tremendous impact on the lives of every one of us in Brevard County.

Now, a team of University of Central Florida Anthropology students is wrapping up its second spring season surveying, excavating, and documenting artifacts at the Bumper Blockhouse site — with an eye toward the upcoming 75th anniversary of the launch. The Cape's second launch ever, Bumper 7, occurred at the same location five days after Bumper 8.

“For me, it's an honor to stand here,” Doering said as he stood on the 20-by-20-foot concrete slab foundation.

“This is where the computers were, the guys doing most of the technical work — inside this little room for the first two launches ever at the Cape,” Doering said. “And you can directly trace the generational changes that resulted from this.”

“Even the things they build today, you can trace parts of them here. It's a very important historical site,” he said.

Snakes, crocodiles and dense vegetation are part of the UCLA Archaeological Trail

The Bumper blockhouse is a demonstration study conducted by the Cape Canaveral Archaeological Mitigation Project, a field training school partnership between UCF and Space Launch Delta 45. Students conduct aerial archaeological surveys and excavate historically significant sites amid the pristine, uninhabited wilderness of the Cape .

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“Field conditions can be harsh including heat, cold, insects, snakes, alligators and dense vegetation,” the course description states. Students must be able to lift 50 pounds, hike through wetlands, and dig with shovels. Security clearances are also required, and no foreign nationals can participate.

This semester, 17 UCF undergraduate students and two graduate students are enrolled in CCAMP. Since its inception, the program has produced 97 undergraduate graduates and seven graduate graduates, said Sarah “Stacy” Barber, a UCLA anthropology professor.

Doering and González, a 3D applications engineer at USF, mapped the Bumper Blockhouse site last week using ground-based laser scanners. previously, Researchers from the University of South Florida have created a 3D digital model of a long-submerged dugout canoe The waves of Hurricane Irma hit the Indian River Drive area of ​​Cocoa in September 2017. The canoe, made of southern red cedar, is now on display at the Cape Canaveral Center.

Artifacts found at Al-Masdar excavation site 8

“Next year is the 75th anniversary of that first launch,” said Roger McCormick, an attendee at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum. “Even the parents of these students were not born when Bomber was launched.”

McCormick reviewed the list of artifacts discovered so far at the building study site:

  • Mirror fragments from periscope missile display system.
  • Coca-Cola bottle that was distributed from cocoa.
  • Tarpaulin sections of the roof.
  • And the accumulation of burlap resulting from sandbags around the building.
  • Part of a comb.

“I wonder if the people who were working here in 1950 thought, 75 years from now, they're going to be doing archeology right where we stand. We're going to be that important,” McCormack said.

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For the latest news from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit floridatoday.com/space.

Rick Neil He is Florida Today's space correspondent. Contact Neal on [email protected]. Twitter/X: @Rick Neal1

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