A Giant Rocket Has Been Sitting Underground For 50 Years After NASA Scrapped The Project

Aerojet

Photo: Naaman Fletcher

In 1963, Aerojet General was given a $3 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to build a manufacturing and testing site for rockets that would send astronauts to the moon.The plant was constructed in the centre of Florida’s Everglades in the town of Homestead.

Beneath a large metal shed, a 150-foot deep silo housed the largest solid-fuel rocket motor ever built. The rocket was tested three times between 1965 and 1967.

Then NASA dropped the project. The agency decided to go with liquid-fuel rocket engines instead. The plant was closed in 1969, leaving the rocket behind.  

Photographer Naaman Fletcher, who blogs at What’s Left of Birmingham, visited the abandoned facility in April 2010. 

Here’s what remains.  

To reach the deserted plant, Fletcher had to bike six miles down a road that is inaccessible to vehicles.

The main complex, seen in the distance, sits on the edge of a swamp.

A large steel shed, though rusted and overgrown with plants, remains mostly intact.

Industrial-size fans surround the walls.

Beneath the rusted floor is a 10-story-high rocket.

The underground silo is the deepest hole ever dug in Florida.

Source: Space Miami

50 years later and the rocket's still there!

Source: Space Miami

The rocket was so large it could only be transported by barge.

So a canal was dug from the manufacturing plant to the Atlantic Ocean in order to get the rockets to Cape Canaveral, where the space shuttles are launched.

The AeroJet 26 Rocket was tested three times between 1965 and 1967, creating a blast that could be seen 50 miles away in Miami, writes Fletcher.

But AeroJet never got the contract from NASA to build rockets.

The space agency decided to use liquid fuel instead of solid fuel.

The plant was closed in 1969.

It's been a ghost town ever since.

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