Omelek Island

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Coordinates: 9°2′52.30″N 167°44′34.80″E / 9.0478611°N 167.7430000°E / 9.0478611; 167.7430000

Aerial view

Omelek Island (/ˈməlɛk/; Marshallese: Kom̧le, pronounced [kʷo͡ɤmˠ(ɤ͡e)lʲee̯])[1] is part of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is controlled by the United States military under a long-term lease (along with ten other islands in the atoll) and is part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.

Geography[edit]

The Island is about 32,000 square metres (7.9 acres) in size. Geologically, it is composed of reef-rock, as are the other islands in the atoll, which is created by the accumulation of marine organism remnants (corals, mollusks, etc.)

History[edit]

Map of Kwajalein Atoll

Omelek has long been used by the United States for small research rocket launches due to its relative isolation in the South Pacific. The last U.S. government rocket launch occurred in 1996.

After 2000, the island's equatorial proximity and nearby radar tracking infrastructure attracted SpaceX, an orbital launch provider, which updated facilities on the island and established it as their primary launch location by 2006. SpaceX began launching Falcon 1 rockets from Omelek in 2006. Falcon 1 Flight 4, the first successful privately funded, liquid-propelled orbital launch vehicle, was launched from Omelek Island on 28 September 2008 and was followed by another Falcon 1 launch on 13 July 2009, placing RazakSAT into orbit.[2]

Omelek was planned to host launches for the upgraded Falcon 1e rocket,[3][4] but as of 2012, SpaceX stopped development on the Falcon 1e launches while it focused on its large Falcon 9 launch manifest.

SpaceX had tentatively planned to upgrade the launch site for use by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. As of December 2010, the SpaceX launch manifest listed Omelek (Kwajalein) as a potential site for several Falcon 9 launches, the first in 2012.[5] and the Falcon 9 Overview document offered Kwajalein as a launch option.[6] In the event, SpaceX did not make the upgrades necessary to support Falcon 9 launches from the atoll.

The Reagan Test Site, which includes rocket launch sites on other islands in the Kwajalein Atoll, on Wake Island, and at Aur Atoll, is the only U.S. government equatorial launch facility.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marshallese-English Dictionary - Place Name Index". Trussel2.com. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  2. ^ "Falcon Launch Report | Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  3. ^ "Falcon-1e". Gunter's Space Page. skyrocket.de. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  4. ^ "SpaceX Falcon Data Sheet". Space Launch Report. 2009-07-18. Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  5. ^ "Launch Manifest". SpaceX. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "Falcon 9 Overview, Performance". SpaceX. 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-28. 

External links[edit]