Originally Posted by Overflow
Actually, it wasnt. Shortly before the Challenger disaster, NASA was planning on permanently sending Space Shuttle Discovery to launch from VAFB, which is why they had a Shuttle launch facility there (I'm not quite sure of it's still there.) But after the Challenger disaster, they decided against it. Florida remains the best place to launch because of the following reasons..
1. Florida is close to the equator. Where linear velocity is at it's greatest, making it easier for the spacecraft to escape Earth's atmosphere.
2. When KSC was built, there was really nothing out at Cape Canaveral, which was good for earlier launches.
3. The shuttle needs to be launched on the east coast, over the Atlantic. Just in case debris falls or stuff explodes. They didn't want the shuttle over land if that happened, so it wouldnt hit people. Now why didn't they launch from California, and go west over the Pacific? Simple. When you're heading west, you're going against the rotation of the Earth, which is much like going against the wind. Which is why more powerful rockets are launched heading west.
The launch complex at Vandenberg AFB is still there, Space Lauch Complex 6 (SLC 6 pronounced slick 6). Not alot of people know that the shuttle was planned for Ca. They widened the roads, put guard shacks on rails so they can roll out of the way when they tow the shuttle across base. Story I got was complex was shut down in part due to contractor who built it fudged all the x-rays for the propellant lines and had to be cut apart, that and what you mentioned.
Always watched the shuttle land at Edwards AFB, that is until the brakes were upgraded to land back at the Cape. Always wanted to see it launch but never got the chance.
*Edit* Also west coast launch's are more for polar orbits