The Real Reason Rockets Launch From Florida

If you were one of the thousands who watched the SpaceX launch, you might have noticed that the feed came from Florida. A lot of space shuttles and rockets take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and there's a reason for it. But no, it isn't because astronauts get to enjoy the fun and sun.

Launching big hulking things out to space requires a lot of effort. Rockets do most of the work, but NASA scientists figured out they can also use the Earth's rotation to their advantage. According to Live Science, Cape Canaveral's location makes it easier to help rockets along. It's near the equator, and on the East Coast, the latter of which allows objects to take advantage of Earth's west-to-east revolution, meaning it won't have to fight against the planet's natural spin. Being near the equator makes things spin faster, as the rate of spin is highest on the equator and slower near the poles. Wired points out the Florida location not only gives rockets the additional energy to leave the Earth's atmosphere, but also makes sure if something goes wrong, it lands in the Atlantic Ocean ... and not, say, Texas or something.

Of course, there are still disadvantages to launching from Florida. The New York Times reports it's not uncommon for launches to be called off at the last minute due to the fast-changing weather in Central Florida, as seen by the delayed SpaceX launch.

They call the area Space Coast now

The rocket launches have even become a tourist activity in Florida, along with the beaches and theme parks. Brevard County — where both Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center are located — brands itself the Space Coast, since it hosts the launch sites.

Florida, though, is not the only state that's associated with the space program. Texas is home to the Johnson Space Center, according to NASA, where mission control sits. Remember when Tom Hanks said "Houston, we have a problem" in the movie Apollo 13? Well, other than the quote being slightly inaccurate, the Apollo 13 astronauts were referring to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. NASA said it moved mission control to Houston because it was larger than the one in Florida, and had faster computers.

So Florida's location makes lift-off easier. Still, it's a sure bet astronauts also appreciate they can go to the beach right before going off into space.