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British launch facility in Kenya?

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
Published by SLP
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Nu Yawk
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This is a very soft AH in any event, but what's the likelihood of a Britain with a longer empire and/or bigger internal space program locating a major launch facility in Kenya, similar to France putting theirs in Guiana for similar geographic advantages?
 

Simon

Oblivious
As other have written the geography lines up but I'd wonder about the politics. Decolonisation in Kenya wasn't the most friendly of affairs, although saying that there is still British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) so something might be arranged. Distance is another potential problem. It's roughly 7,000 nautical miles from the UK to Kenya versus about 5,400 nmi from France to French Guiana so a ~28% increase in distance which isn't so bad for shipping, but that's via the Suez Canal. Something you might not be able to count on considering that it was closed for six months during and after the Suez Crisis, and then for another eight years due to Arab-Israeli hostilities. If you go around the Cape the journey becomes nearly 10,000 nmi which is an +83% increase and the weather around there isn't exactly great.

Is Kenya a requirement? If the UK has a stronger space programme then I could see them coming to a similar conclusion as France and arranging a deal with Guyana, or possibly Trinidad if it's prior to the development of the offshore oil and gas industry. Ascension Island has the twin advantages of nominative determinism and being securely British territory, although I'd need to check about enough available land.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Decolonisation in Kenya wasn't the most friendly of affairs
So that leaves me thinking, does it become friendlier because of the British Experimental Rocket Group facility ("we have to schmooze them" from London and "this could be good for Kenyan jobs & prestige" from Nairobi") or become nastier ("this political faction might interfere with the site, time they had 'accidents'") leading to Kenya eventually going "fuck off"
 

Delta Force

Well-known member
The payload advantages of an equatorial launch site are negligible. The main advantage of equatorial launch sites are in providing a more ideal inclination for launches into geostationary orbit, helping to significantly boost payload capacity for those types of launches (source). If there isn't as much of a need for that capability there is no reason why the launch facilities can't be built somewhere more easily accessible such as a remote area of Scotland.
 

rfmcdonald

Well-known member
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Toronto
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Anything is possible, certainly. The terms under which Kenya stayed in the British sphere do have to be examined: A Kenya that is a free and self-governing partner is likely to be a more secure base than a Kenya under occupation. That is one of the reasons why French Guiana and Kourou was picked: The territory was securely French in a way that Gabon (sat) could not be.
 
Anything is possible, certainly. The terms under which Kenya stayed in the British sphere do have to be examined: A Kenya that is a free and self-governing partner is likely to be a more secure base than a Kenya under occupation. That is one of the reasons why French Guiana and Kourou was picked: The territory was securely French in a way that Gabon (sat) could not be.
Also, Guiana is better for eastward launches (to take advantage of the Earth's rotation), due to having open ocean that way.
 
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