Isn't Antartica about the worst place to launch from? I understood that the nearer to the equator the better is the deal for space launches? Something about using the Earth's rotational velocity to your advantage?
You got it Pontiac. Launching from the poles gets you absolutely zero assist so far as orbits that travel from West to East. The land at the equator is moving 1670 km per hour, and land halfway to the pole is only moving 1180 km per hour.
Now if we are talking about Polar orbits, or obits that either go from North to South or South to North, launching at the poles could be made to work.
Remember back in 1986 when STS-51L Challenger
launched? Just a few months later, there was scheduled launch to occur from the West Coast. It never occurred because of the Challenger incident.
STS=Space Transportation System
The 1st digit is a 5 which means the launch was scheduled for fiscal year 1985
The 2nd digit will either be a 1 or a 2. 1 is for Kennedy Space Center-East Coast launches, "2" is for Vandenburg West Coast Launches
The 3rd digit is the sequence that the mission was scheduled within the fiscal year. A is the 1st mission, B is the2nd, C is the 3rd, so L=12th launch scheduled.
So the launch scheduled to launch from the West Coast was STS-62-A.
6 is fiscal year 1986
2= West Coast Launch
A=1st launch from SLC-6 West Coast
There was a mission named STS-62-A Discovery
was scheduled to launch from Vandenburg AFB from SLC-6 (Space Launch Complex Six-pronounced Slick Six) down towards the South for the SSP(Space Shuttle Program) first Polar Orbit launch.
Because the West to East launches from Kennedy Space Center allowed for a roughly 55,000lb payload inside the Orbiter. In order to provide 29,600 payload capabilities for a Polar Orbit launch, the Shuttle required different Solid Rocket Boosters, which were the same size as the KSC East to West Orbit launches, except that instead of 1/2" wall steel casing, the Vandenburg Polar Launch SRB's were made of Filament Wound Casings(FWC). In addition, instead of running the SSMEs(Space Shuttle Main Engines) at the typical 104.5% Rated Power Level(RPL)
Here is a pic from Vandenburg AFB SLC-6 with Orbiter Enterprise
installed on the launch pad in October 1985.
Performance for intermediate inclinations can be estimated by allowing 660 pounds for each degree of plane change between inclinations of 68 and 98 degrees.
Here is a pic of a display Shuttle Stack with the Vandenburg Filament Wound Cases.
During the downtime when Shuttle was grounded from 1986-1989, it was determined that Polar West coast launches would NOT occur, so the 4 billion dollar investment was wasted, and all useable components were taken to KSC for use and SLC-6 was mothballed.
Here is a pic of Enterprise sitting atop SLC-39A(Space Launch Complex 39-A in Florida) checking out the fitment of the pad with the Orbiter 20 months before the first Shuttle launch. Enterprise was never built to go into space, but it was the first Orbiter to actually take flight and land, as it was used in the 1979 ALT(Approach/Landing Tests). It was 1st taxied at various speeds atop the 747 SCA(Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) to test the 747's acceleration and braking with the 250,000 pound Orbiter on top of it. Then the SCA and Enterprise took flight with the Orbiter unpowered, then flights took place with the Enterprise powered with Pilots, then finally flights took place with pilots in Enterprise, with Enterprise actually being cut loose from a rapidly descending SCA 747.
Both Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, SCA-911(background) SCA 905(foreground)
And SCA 905 midflight with Orbiter Challenger on her back from 1982.
Oh those were the days.