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Space

Vandenberg Airmen launch Atlas V rocket

3/13/2008 - VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. (AFPN) -- Vandenberg Air Force Base Airmen successfully launched a Atlas V rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload from Space Launch Complex-3 at 3:01 a.m. Pacific Daily Time March 13 here.

The launch was the product of the combined efforts of officials from the 30th Space Wing, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance, the Space and Missile Systems Center, and the Aerospace Corporation.

Capt. Daniel Rubalcaba of the 4th Space Launch Squadron was the mission flight commander for the launch. On launch day he worked the Air Force technical assessment of the launch countdown. Part of his responsibilities were to work with the combined SMC, ULA, and Aerospace team on anomaly diagnosis and resolution.

Space Launch Complex-3 was significantly modified to get ready for the next generation of space launch vehicles. The Atlas V was the first launch since the modifications were completed, said 1st Lt. Stacey Marzheuser. Previously used for 21 Atlas II launches, the pad received significant upgrades to accommodate the larger and more powerful booster. The tower was made taller, the overhang was extended with a much bigger crane, and the entire pad deck was reconfigured. The pad also features a brand new fixed launch platform.

"This launch was an incredible achievement for Team Vandenberg, ULA, NRO and our other fellow launch partners," said Col. Steve Tanous, the 30th Space Wing commander. He was the spacelift commander for this mission, or final go-for-launch authority.

"The hard work and dedication of everyone involved for the first launch of an Atlas V and for the year here, continues to ensure our nation's access to space," he said. "I am very proud of the teamwork that led to the successful and historic Atlas V mission."

The Atlas V is an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. This was the first Atlas V launch from Vandenberg AFB.



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