Omelek Island

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Aerial view

Omelek Island 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

The Island is located at 9°2.890′N 167°44.585′E / 9.048167°N 167.743083°E / 9.048167; 167.743083Coordinates: 9°2.890′N 167°44.585′E / 9.048167°N 167.743083°E / 9.048167; 167.743083 and is about 32,000 square meters (8 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

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. More recently, the island's equatorial proximity and nearby radar tracking infrastructure has attracted SpaceX, an orbital launch provider, which updated facilities on the island and established it as their primary launch location. SpaceX began launching Falcon 1 rockets from Omelek in 2006. Falcon 1 Flight 4, the first successful privately-funded, liquid-propelled carrier rocket was launched from Omelek Island on 28 September 2008.

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.

External links