World spaceports: Matagorda

Besides the well know Kennedy Space Center or Baikonur launch sites, there are many other such places around the world. Some of them aren't used for rocket launches, it they played an important role in space history, or are part of current aerospace activities.

As part of the development of my Orbiter stock bases upgrade add-on, I've done some research regarding this sometimes little know sites. My objective was to provide high resolution surface tiles for each base and to represent, using the stock base objects, the main structures present. I'll share here some interesting places I discovered.

Matagorda was considered as a possible location for NASA's spaceport, along with places like Cape Canaveral... While it was not chosen in reality, it's still featured as a space base in some Ben Bova books. In reality, two close airfields exist at that location, one of them related to private space firms in the 1970s. 

Matagorda Island AFB


Matagorda Island AFB, Matagorda Island, TX (28.33N 96.46W) was built during World War II. The site was one of the early NASA considerations for a launch site before they settled on Cape Canaveral. Matagorda Island AFB was deactivated in 1975.
Today, the runways and taxiways, although infested with vegetation, are in very good condition. There are several structures, hangars, and buildings of various types in various stages of deterioration. Also there is a usable dock and a small port facility.

Pads and runways


When in use, the base had 6 paved runways, control tower, VOR (116.4) and NDB beacons. It had one 15,000 ft runway, two 10,000 ft, and numerous shorter runways (at least 5000 ft).

Pierce Field 


Matagorda Peninsula Army Airfield (also named Matagorda Peninsula Airport, Matagorda Club Airfield or Pierce Field (72TA))(28.46N 96.29W) is also nearby.

Also built during World War II, to support the Matagorda Island AFB to the west. The airfield had a total of 5 paved runways. It was used by Deke Slayton and other former astronauts in a private space venture in the late 1960s/1970s. Several attempts to launch kerosene/liquid oxygen vehicles failed.

Pads and runways

  • Runway 6/24, 1829 x 23 m, concrete
  • Runway 18/36, 1524 x 23 m, concrete

Matagorda in Orbiter
(as featured on my  Orbiter stock bases upgrade add-on)



Matagorda in GoogleMaps




Maps and references


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