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  Space shuttle at Vandenberg Air Force Base

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Author Topic:   Space shuttle at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Posts: 428
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 04-09-2013 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There were plans to launch the space shuttle from Vandenberg AFB in the '80s and a dedicated launch complex was built there for these DoD missions.

My questions are as follows:

  1. Were any astronauts formally assigned to crews for these mission? I seem to recall that Robert Crippen was assigned to command the first Dod mission, but cannot remember who his crewmates would have been.

  2. Had the launches occurred, would the shuttle have flown north or south? I dimly recall that these were to be polar orbit missions. I am wondering where the SRBs would have landed.

  3. What happened to these facilities?
I believe that Reagan cancelled this DoD aspect of the shuttle program after Challenger was lost. I know that I saw, a long time ago, images of Enterprise being used to check out the launch pad etc. before the shoe dropped.


Posts: 1257
From: Ossian IN USA
Registered: Oct 2007

posted 04-09-2013 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
  • CDR: Robert Crippen
  • PLT: Guy Gardner
  • MS: Dale Gardner
  • MS: Mike Mullane
  • MS: Jerry Ross
  • PS: John Waterson
  • PS: Edward "Pete" Aldridge

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 31728
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-09-2013 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The launch complex, Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6, pronounced "Slick-Six"), was originally built in 1966 to fly Titan 3 boosters and modified Gemini B capsules for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). Two decades later, it was converted to support Air Force launches of the space shuttle.

Space shuttle Enterprise was brought to Vandenberg in 1985 to serve as a fit check vehicle for the reconfigured launch pad and support facilities.

As mentioned, the first crew assigned to launch from SLC-6 was for STS-62A, with commander Bob Crippen, pilot Guy Gardner and mission specialists Mike Mullane, Jerry Ross and Dale Gardner. Pete Aldridge and Brett Watterson were assigned as payload specialists.

The mission would have launched southward over the Pacific Ocean into polar orbit. STS-62A was scheduled to deploy the Teal Ruby experimental spacecraft and operate a package of sensors in the payload bay.

You can read more about the history of SLC-6 at Spaceflight Now. Linked from that page are multiple photo galleries showing Enterprise at the pad.

After its use for the space shuttle was canceled, SLC-6 was used briefly to launch Athena rockets, before being remodified to support Delta IV boosters, which have launched there since 2006.


Posts: 435
From: Germantown, WI USA
Registered: Jan 2004

posted 04-09-2013 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikej   Click Here to Email mikej     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote also has a number of photos of Enterprise at SLC-6

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