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Space Launch Complex 6 [SLC-6]

"The usual pattern at the base is to pretend that everything's just fine until press reports appear showing that the facts are otherwise." - An "observer" quoted in Military Space.(1)

"We have spent nearly $3 billion on a facility that will not work and may not even be needed." Senator Jim Sasser(2)


The Advanced KEYHOLE ["KH-12"] was a driving force behind the decision to build the the Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). The satellite needed a polar orbit for coverage, and VAFB "could provide near polar and retrograde azimuth launches which could not be achieved efficiently or safely from Kennedy."(3) The importance of accommodating the new generation reconnaissance satellite was DOD's underlying rationale for a West coast launch site.

However, the SLC-6 (pronounced slick six) facility was plagued by problems, including faulty construction, unanticipated operational hazards such as the weather, and the need for augmentation shuttle in order to boost the heavy KH-12. These problems delayed the initial operation of SLC-6 as well as the KH-12's debut, which, prior to the cancellation of West coast shuttle operations, was scheduled for the second Vandenberg shuttle flight. The expensive and problem-ridden SLC-6 complex itself came under increasing fire as critics urged rapid development of new expendable launch vehicles capable of boosting heavy payloads into polar orbit.

The SLC-6 saga illuminates the KH-12's impact on the space program not only regarding the decision to build the nearly three billion dollar launch site, but also because of shuttle design changes made to accommodate the satellite.

After Vandenberg was chosen as an STS launch site, the Air Force argued that conversion of SLC-6's partially complete Titan 3 facilities - the remains of the canceled Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program - would save over $100 million by precluding `bare ground' construction of Shuttle facilities.(4) Modification of existing MOL facilities nonetheless was extensive. The access tower was constructed of materials from the MOL Umbilical Tower. The service tower transport rails were extended 150 feet further from the launch mount, which required extensive excavation of the surrounding hillside. The preexisting service tower underwent major changes, such as replacing a 50 ton crane with a 200 ton crane and shortening the tower by 40 feet. However, it was subsquently suggested that the decision to build on MOL facilities "may turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish."(5) Allowing the Shuttle main engines to use the old MOL ducts contributed to the hydrogen entrapment problem that haunted the program.

The KH-12 and SLC-6:

In 1972, Vandenberg CA and Cape Kennedy FL were chosen as sites for shuttle launches. The SLC-6 option at VAFB was approved in 1975, and construction began four years later - as the KH-12 program was getting underway.(6) As a Senate report summarized: "The Air Force originally justified the expenditure of such [SLC-6] funding on the basis of a need to launch high-priority military payloads into polar orbits. After Defense Department officials testified that polar orbits could not be achieved by launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Congress initiated construction of....[SLC-6]."(7)

Although the site decisions were made jointly by NASA and the DOD, the latter was given operational control of the SLC-6 facility. The press described SLC-6 as "designed to place clandestine military satellites in orbit."(8) Secrecy covered SLC-6's operational support for the KH-12.(9) For example, Air Force Colonel Earl Severo, while admitting that the Air Force built SLC-6 to put 32,000-pound payloads into polar orbit, would not comment on what cargo would weigh that much.(10)

The shuttle-configured KH-12 needed to fly out of Vandenberg in order to reach a proper polar orbit allowing full coverage of strategic Soviet installations. And the potential complications of polar flights from VAFB are small compared to those that would have been faced at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). These are the primary reasons why the DOD was so intent upon building SLC-6.

The chart "Why Shuttle At Vandenberg", presented to Congress a year after the KH-12 program was initiated, provided two answers to its own question. One, "LAUNCH AND LANDING SITE CONSIDERATIONS CONSTRAIN SHUTTLE PERFORMANCE." Two, CRITICAL HIGH-INCLINATION MISSIONS CAN BE SAFELY LAUNCHED ONLY FROM VAFB - 40% OF PROJECTED DOD MISSIONS WILL LAUNCH FROM VAFB."(11)

During 1978, the GAO, NASA, and DOD were engaged in a dispute, aired in congressional testimony, about whether or not payloads as large as the KH-12 could be launched out of Kennedy.(12) A GAO official stated in March 1978: "[W]e find that the most demanding payload of the Department of Defense requires about a 32,000-pound payload launch. We show that a polar orbit can be managed out of Kennedy with more than a 34,000 payload."(13) The GAO later informed the Congress that it had met with NASA and DOD, and "[r]eached agreement that payload requirements of 32,000 pounds could be launched out of Kennedy by making changes to the launch trajectory and mission configuration. There are remaining differences of opinion concerning safety considerations."(14)

Safety considerations were real. Ascent into polar orbit from KSC would carry the shuttle over South Carolina and towards the Great Lakes, both highly populated areas. The solid rocket boosters could fall within a circle that includes Brunswick, GA.(15) Moreover, the 36 ton, 155 foot long external fuel tank is jettisoned six minutes after SRB separation. As an AF space official told Congress, the unguided tank then becomes "a sub-orbital ballistic projectile and proceeds over Canada, over the North Pole, over Russia, China, and in some cases over India, and into the Indian Ocean."(16)

In an April 7, 1978 letter NASA Administrator Robert A. Frosch stated his concern about launching all shuttle missions from KSC: "As NASA Administrator, I could not, in good conscience, recommend the risk inherent in such a policy except in the case of dire national emergency, and I have been informed that the DOD shares my feelings."(17) He told Congress that it would be "irresponsible" to follow a policy that had such a high possibility of ending in catastrophe.(18) [See Space Shuttle Apps FY79 pp.280, 299 and 355 for .9999].

The risk inherent in polar shuttle launches from the Cape included more than the possibility of injuring or killing citizens.(19) Defense Department officials worried that they would be unable to launch and retrieve satellites on the same mission -a capability important for shuttle servicing efficiency and potentially crucial in emergencies.(20) A 1977 State Department letter to the GAO included the following concerns: "(a) The ascent maneuvers would reduce payload capability and undercut the STS potential to support systems essential to national security, (b) polar launches from KSC will require notification to USSR of the impending event. However, there isn't any assurance that, even with notification being sent early enough, Soviet reaction to the sudden appearance of the STS, including the external tank, could be averted, and (c) unsuccessful orbital insertions could necessitate mission aborts into Canada and the USSR. (deleted.)"(21)

Questions of national security regarding the highly sensitive KH-12 missions clearly were problematic. Surprising the Soviet Union with a jettisoned external fuel tank would hardly rank as a high moment in U.S. foreign policy. Nor would it be diplomatic to crash-land the shuttle in Soviet territory.

Even with launches from VAFB, it was necessary to consider emergency, or alternative, launch missions. "Reconnaissance satellite deployments as early as the first orbit would be designed to place the imaging vehicle in space with the orbiter quickly returning to Earth to avoid overflying Soviet territory." However in 1982 USAF expressed concern that "[a]stronaut motion sickness could interfere with deployment of imaging reconnaissance spacecraft shortly after launch."(22) A question therefore remains regarding the viability of deploying the KH-12 on a first shuttle orbit out of Vandenberg, as planned for Defense Reference Mission 4Y. [the 4Y requirement involved either refueling or emergency deployment on one day orbit. with possible return to emergency landing sites].

But an even more fundamental concern for those debating the merits of Vandenberg was the problem of properly launching the vital KH-12 out of KSC on the shuttle. Following standard launch safety criteria, the shuttle could reach a maximum orbital inclination of 57 degrees. Using an orbiter yaw-steering (or "dogleg" maneuver), it could reach polar orbit. But the energy required for the orbiter and external tank to turn at high velocity through a specific wedge angle would, according to Military Space, "result in a 30% loss in payload capacity (from 32,000 to 22,000 pounds) that could be launched into a 98 degree inclination orbit."(23) This implied that the heavy KH-12 could not reach polar orbit from the Cape.

But as the early debate among GAO, NASA and DOD illustrates, whether or not heavy polar launches from KSC were technically feasible, the option was not considered viable - certainly not viable given existing safety standards and the concerns outlined above. And as Aviation Week & Space Technology noted in 1978, the DOD "needs at least a 32,000-lb. payload capability to a 98-deg. inclined orbit to satisfy photo reconnaissance spacecraft requirements. Shuttle officials do not believe this is possible from Cape Canaveral."(24) Colonel Jacoby told Congress in 1982, the AF had been banking on a shuttle launch capability out of VAFB. It had, after all, configured the KH-12 accordingly. "We cannot fly the Polar missions at all out of Kennedy," he said. "We must go out of Vandenberg, and we have payloads that are unique to the shuttle now because our programs have been planning on the shuttle's availability."(25)

Vandenberg Operations:

Initially, full operational capability at VAFB was defined as 20 flights per year, assuming that two launch pads and a two-orbiter fleet were provided.(26)

By 1981, the definition had fallen to ten flights per year from one launch pad.(27) It was later changed again, to four launches annually beginning in 1987, but in August 1985 an Air Force official said that two annual launches were planned, beginning in 1988.(28) Program managers hoped to gradually develop the capability to launch four flights annually from one pad, with the option to surge to five.(29) Now even a diminished launch rate has been thrown into question, due to a variety of factors which will be discussed below.

Shuttle operations at VAFB were to be conducted in three areas: North VAFB; South VAFB; and Port Hueneme. Either transported by Shuttle Aircraft Carrier, a modified Boeing 747, or landing by itself after return from orbit, the Orbiter would reach the airfield landing facility at North VAFB. It would then be towed to the orbiter maintenance and checkout facility (OMCF), where the Orbiter's maneuvering system pods would be removed and sent to the hypergolic maintenance and checkout facility.(30) Horizontally-integrated payloads would subsequently be installed. Other North VAFB facilities include the mate/demate facility, orbiter processing support facility, integrated operations support complex, Vandenburg launch processing system, flight crew accommodations facility, and flight crew equipment facility.(31)

Once the Orbiter was readied for flight, it would be towed along a 16 mile route to South VAFB, the site of SLC-6. Cranes inside the mobile service tower and shuttle assembly building would hoist the Orbiter atop the launch mount, where it would be mated with the external tank and solid rocket boosters that are already in place. Umbilical connections were provided through the access tower. Vertically integrated payloads would be moved from the nearby payload preparation room and payload changeout room.

There were three checkout cells in Payload Preparation facility, according to trade and service magazines. In 1985, two cells were configured for the first shuttle mission.(32) The cell closest to the launch pad was prepared specifically for classified payloads. It could assemble and join payloads to their boosters, service them with chemicals and checkout payload operation. To prevent radio interference and outside monitoring of emitted signals during payload checkout, Cell One was emission-proofed, providing 100 db. of electromagnetic shielding.

Cell Two was similar, but lacked the electromagnetic shielding, while the third cell was never activated.(33) The cells reportedly could be staffed so that the crew working in one cell would not know what happened in the other.(34) The Orbiter Maintenance and Checkout Facility housed another two payload cells, both of which would handle classified satellites.(35)

To reach the Orbiter, the external tank would be shipped by barge from Louisiana to the tank landing facility at Point Arguello Boathouse, south of SLC-6. It then would follow a two mile tow route to the tank checkout facility for processing, subsequently proceeding to the launch pad for stacking. Booster segments were shipped via rail to a receiving and subassembly facility, which also refurbished booster forward and aft skirt sub-assemblies. The launch control center at SLC-6 monitored launch operations. Prior to launch the servicing towers would be moved on rails away from the pad area.

Booster recovery was to be conducted at Port Hueneme, 85 miles southeast of VAFB near Oxnard. The water retrieval operations were similar to those at Kennedy Space Center, FL. Port Hueneme also housed the initial wash facility and the booster disassembly facility.(36)

SLC-6 Construction:

Beginning in 1979, contruction at SLC-6 proceeded in four `packages.' Package 1, which included excavation, demolition, tank foundations and moving the mobile service tower 150 feet further from the pad, cost $13.9 million. Package 2, at $351 million, completed construction of the assembly tower, payload preparation room, launch mount and exhaust ducts. The mobile tower, payload changeout room, and other pad facilities were completed in Package 3 for $169.9 million. Another $17.8 million was spent on Package 4, which reconfigured the launch control for Shuttle operations.(37) (These are by no means complete costs for the SLC-6 facility.)

In response to the declining number of planned flights from VAFB, and to reduce costs, several operational and construction changes were made.(38)

Also, unexpected problems emerged. For example, it turned out that each launch would generate about 4000 tons of toxic wastes (primarily booster exhaust contaminated noise supression water), which was about eight times the amount that was anticipated prior to STS-1. As of May 1986, $45 million had been spent on a hazardous waste disposal facility that was termed 60% complete.(39) And should more noise supression water have been required at SLC-6 than at Kennedy, further expenditures would have been necessary.

Another surprise was the winds in the SLC-6 area. Funneled by surrounding hills, they commonly create gusts of up to 47 m.p.h. in the winter. To preserve year-round operational capability without endangering the delicate tiles on the orbiter, a vertical assembly environmental shelter (also known as the windscreen) was built. At $79.5 million [other sources listed the total cost as $40 million], it was "the largest single modification made to the original facility design."(40)

Several other operation issues remained unresolved. Because it appeared that tank icing would be much more severe at VAFB than at Kennedy, an additional $12.8 million was spent on ET Area icing-protection.(41) The Air Force added two jet engines near the launch mounts, hoping that the warm exhaust flowing through ducts will sufficiently warm the tanks. But as one Air Force Officer reported, "We don't know if it will work or not."(42) A 1986 Senate report warned that the icing problem remained "very significant."(43)

Another outstanding problem was blast protection. SLC-6 was a surprisingly compact facility for a rocket as large as the Shuttle. At lift-off the launch control center is less than 1200 feet from the pad, and the other facilities also are very close. It was long unclear what sorts of additional protection for these structures might be required to shield them from the intense acoustic, blast and thermal environment of a Shuttle lift-off.

IOC Delays:

The initial operating capability (IOC) at VAFB repeatedly was pushed back because of shoddy construction, unanticipated technical difficulties, weather factors, design flaws and other problems. Delay also was due in part to difficulties in accommodating the heavy KH-12 on the shuttle. Initially, the KH-12 was to have been the first payload out of Vandenberg. "The first Vandenberg AFB-launched mission, scheduled for October, 1985, had been planned to carry a large Defense Dept. operational spacecraft payload." But in January 1983, General Abramson announced that the first flight was considered a developmental launch that will not carry an operational military satellite. "We are still looking for an alternative payload for that," he said.(44) The KH-12 was relegated to the second shuttle flight out of Vandenberg - Mission 62-B.(45) Subsequently the TEAL RUBY sensor test spacecraft was manifested on the October 1985 developmental flight.

The immediate source of IOC delays soon shifted to site construction. Prompted by the December discovery of 700 unsound welds at the shuttle launch complex, the Air Force in August 1984 ordered an investigation of construction problems at Vandenberg shuttle launch complex.(46) By September, Air Force Undersecretary Edward C. Aldridge Jr. was reassuring Congress the of the 6000 "construction discrepancies" found at SLC-6, only 60 could be considered serious and all but 14 had been corrected.(47) A summary of the Inspector General review, released on September 18th, stated that the safety of the launch site had not been compromised and denied that the "discrepancies" were "inordinate for the size and complexity of this project."(48)

NASA and the Air Force announced in January 1985 that the first VAFB shuttle launch had been delayed from October 1985 until no earlier than January 29, 1986. "The decision was based primarily on the importance of maintaining the current Shuttle manifest and to insure adequate margin in the development of the DOD payload for the initial Vandenberg launch."(49) The postponement was not expected to affect the second VAFB shuttle launch - the KH-12 - scheduled for September 1986.(50) By June the IOC was set for March 20th, and plans for the second launch in September remained unchanged.(51)

Thus it made sense to substitute the TEAL RUBY experimental space detection system for the KH-12 on the first VAFB launch (62-A). But even TEAL RUBY could not have reached the altitude required for thorough testing of its staring mosaic infrared system. In addition to lift shortfalls, cross range deficiencies meant the Orbiter would have been unable to maneuver sufficiently to return to VAFB in an emergency; a search for alternative landing sites therefore was undertaken. The second launch, with the KH-12 as designated payload, remained set for September 1986, while the third SLC-6 launch was to be in March 87.(52)

Other problems were coming to light in the fall of 1985, including the possibility that the shuttle main engine ducts could fill with hydrogen gas and result in a detonation during launch, possibly damaging the shuttle during liftoff.(53)

In December 1985, it was reported that the Vandenberg Shuttle launch had slipped to July 1986, and the second also probably would slip, since the turnaround at Vandenberg was likely to be about eight months.(54) The Air Force hoped eventually to reduce turnaround time to 120 days.(55)

Post-Challenger Status:

The Challenger disaster of January 1986 prompted a reevaluation of manned space flight - particularly for military missions which could be launched without human assistance. The space accident also focused attention on the costs of SLC-6 and its many problems - especially the newly recognized possibility that liquid hydrogen could be trapped in the shuttle main engine exhaust duct. SLC-6 came under increasing criticism, from which it has yet to emerge.

In January 1986, modifications to eliminate the great potential hazard of trapped liquid hydrogen threatened to cost an additional $8 million. It was feared that the hydrogen could cause a fire in the duct or an explosion resulting in overpressure - blowing the tail apart during launch or after an emergency engine shutdown. The AF reportedly considered the issue one of its most demanding technical problems.

The initial plan was to add radial outward firing igniters inside the main engine duct to ignite any concentrations of liquid hydrogen; if a shutdown occured, about 54 igniters automatically would be set off.(56) Six months later, over 28 solutions were being considered, including four that require substantial duct modification. By October, they had narrowed the options to two.(57) The trapped hydrogen problem remains very serious.(58)

As a June 1986 Senate report concluded: "While the Challenger accident has publicly been viewed as the reason shuttle missions cannot be performed at Vandenberg, the primary reason is the need to test and modify launch pad facilities, which, as currently built, could result in serious damage to the shuttle orbiter under certain, not improbable, circumstances." These problems alone, the report stated, could prevent a launch until late July 1989.(59)

Fears about the gaseous hydrogen appeared to prevent the possibility of a launch before 1988 at the earliest. And shuttle flights had been postponed for at least 18 months, influencing Air Force deliberations on the future of Vandenberg. One magazine said the AF was considering delaying the use of VAFB or even scrapping it entirely.(60) Another report said officials were not considering closing VAFB permanently, but were considering two main options: one, putting the facility into "caretaker" status until it's needed for the space station. (VAFB would need three years to reach operational status once the decision to reactivate had been made.) Two, waiting until a fourth orbiter was built to replace the orbiter, around 1990-91.(61)

Officials were trying to decide whether the continuing to keep Vandenberg operating (estimated to cost about $400 million annually), was justified given that only a few payloads - the KH-12 and possibly other military satellites(milstar?) - required a SLC-6 launch.(62) But since the KH-12 is considered crucial to national security and is too large for existing ELVs, the alternatives were not pleasant.

Air Force officials noted that mothballing VAFB would allow an increase in annual launchings while a fourth orbiter was built - since transferring the orbiter between KSC and SLC-6 could mean losing two or more missions a year.(63) But the White House senior interagency group on space recommended building 13 new Titan 34D7 Complementary Expendable Launch Vehicles (CELVs), and was considering an upgrade to the SLC-4 pad at VAFB to allow for polar CELV launches of Milstar and the KH-12.

Edward C. Aldridge, guardian of U.S. intelligence satellites, reportedly had been skeptical of the shuttle's reliability, and therefore had pushed to build a new fleet of versatile ELVs.(64) CELV procurement and SLC-4 modification subsequently were undertaken.(65) Yet although the Air Force was considering making its payloads CELV compatible, it was well aware of the expense and potential delay involved, as well as the fact that the CELVs would not be ready until 1988 at the earliest.(66)

Meanwhile, SLC-6 came under increasing outside fire, typified by the LA Times' charge that the "White Elephant" VAFB "adds nothing to America's space resources."(67) Several members of the presidential commission investigating the shuttle challenged the necessity of the launch site, and various Congressmen supported this questioning. The objections were several: cost, continuing technical and construction problems, risks of unnecessary manned flight, and a viable alternative in expendable launch vehicles.

A staff report Senator Stafford had published in June summarized the case. Cost overruns were significant. When originally proposed in 1977, Vandenberg was estimated to cost $1.17 billion - a far cry from its nearly three billion dollar price tag to date.

Construction costs alone doubled from an estimated $251.8 million in 1978 to an actual $503.4 spent be May 1986; over 2110 separate modifications were undertaken at the cost of $73 million. And additional construction funds for repair will cost over $11 million, probably much more.(68) Total costs, standing at $2.8 billion in January 1986, easily could surpass $3 billion.(69) Related to the modifications and cost increases, of course, was the constant postponement of the IOC.

Nor was the report's prognosis heartening. It detailed the charges concerning the hydrogen entrapment problem, which remained the main obstacle to a Vandenberg launch. The report expressed additional safety concerns about the proximity of the control center to the launch pad. A distance of only 1200 feet could well be - as demonstrated by the April Titan explosion - too close for the comfort for the 175 people in the SLC-6 control center. Moreover, the vibrations from routine launches could upset computer equipment.(70)

The report also noted continuing weather-related problems, such as that of icing, which remains "very significant." Heavy fog can block visibility of television monitors upon which launch controllers rely; the problem is exacerbated by the fact that "some [military] payloads, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness, must be launched within a short, specified length of time."(71)

Vandenberg officials, according to the report, still were not sure that they had solved the problem of pad stiffness.(72) The Sasser report also noted that many SLC-6 system tests, apart from mating and stacking and hydrogen over-pressure tests, remained to be accomplished(73).

And the Challenger investigation panel's recommendations were rumored to include a fix for steel casings used at KSC that would add substantial weight to the solid rocket boosters; a similar solution at Vandenberg would negate much of the gains of FWCs, degrading lift capacity.(74) In February 1987, it turned out that "[t]he weight to be added to the Shuttles in their structural changes will force USAF to lower its requirement that they be capable of boosting 32,000 pounds of payload out of Vandenberg and of landing - in case it's necessary - with 24,000 pounds of payload still aboard."(75)

The report argued that expendable launch vehicles could adequately support future DOD missions. Noting that the Titan 34D's problems apparently were not caused by design deficiencies like those of the shuttle, the report said that the missile would likely be "returned to service in time to support priority payloads."(76) In addition, the report stated that CELVs out of Vandenberg would be able to lift 32,000 pounds into polar orbit.(77) Sasser predicted that an operational west coast CELV launch pad, planned for spring 1989, could fulfill the purpose of SLC-6 - the launch of heavy payloads into polar orbit. He argued that CELVs are preferable to manned space flight for reasons of economy and reliability.(78)

ELVs had several advantages over the shuttle - they are generally cheaper (even the new CELVs were estimated by the CBO to have slight cost advantage); they can be readied for flight more quickly; they are not manned; they do not overfly the Soviet Union; and they offer significant growth potential. These advantages made the intial policy -using the shuttle in addition to the ELV fleet - seem only prudent.(79)

However, economic pressures and NASA lobbying had changed this policy. Because it wanted DOD's business, NASA had urged the Carter White House to put all national security payloads on Shuttle beginning in 1987.(80) The Air Force reportedly had objected, arguing that the shuttle was not proven reliable, etc.; this view certainly has been vindicated.(81) However, the fact remains that the KH-12 - a most crucial imagery intelligence satellite - was configured specifically for a launch vehicle that could not be considered 100% reliable. Therein lies the rub.

The DOD eventually was forced to shift the KH-12 launch (mission 62-B) from VAFB to KSC; the general dearth of intelligence satellites in orbit demanded that the KH-12 go up as soon as possible, regardless of the disadvantages of flying from KSC.(82) What Military Space called "the ultimate `national security' shuttle launch," because it will take the orbiter over highly populated regions, was also an inefficient use of the KH-12.(83) The Sasser report held that even they can't reach polar orbits from KSC, the "payloads will still achieve substantial benefit to national security...."(84)

This explained why the many in the military remained such staunch supporters a SLC-6 capability. The KH-12 is the key to the debate. Opponents of SLC-6, argued that because KSC can take the immediate slack and ELVs can be used in the future, "the necessity for a space shuttle to carry military payloads into polar orbits from Vandenberg not longer appears to be a requirement for the immediate future."(85)

But Weinberger's response to these suggestions was firm support for SLC-6. "We have to launch from there," he said, explaining that some military payloads can be lifted only with the shuttle.(86) Aldridge insisted that the USAF would launch the shuttle from VAFB; "The question is when."(87) VAFB is, he said, "essential" for polar orbit flights.(88) He stressed the problems of cost increases and delays that adapting heavy polar-orbit military payloads to CELVs would entail.(89) And, as AWST editorialized, SLC-6 "provides excellent facilities for processing large satellites returned from space, an obvious benefit to USAF's future reconnaissance and surveillance satellite programs."(90) And there was, in the minds of some, a need for SLC-6 in order to support SDI.(91)

And in July 1986, the AF recommended mothballing SLC-6 until at least 1991 or 1992. The recommendation, according to AW&ST, partly was due to the belief that SRB and main engine thrust level safety issues should be addressed before "heavy military payloads-primarily imaging reconnaissance satellites" were launched from VAFB. Some DOD, NASA and congressional officials reportedly believed that the mothball recommendation would be extended, and that new Titan 4 and other ELVs would eliminate the need for SLC-6. Other options, including the launch of one satellite per year, were still under consideration.(92)

In July 1986, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that VAFB would be placed in operational caretaker status. The decision was taken to allow keeping critical personnel, making modifications to keep VAFB compatible with KSC (not possible with facility cartaker or mothball status according to AF officials) and to regain launch capability by the second quarter of 1992.(93)

By September, the House Appropriations Committee called on the DOD to downgrade VAFB to "operational caretaker" status.(94) The change in status cut VAFB funding by $100 m in FY87 and $200 m in Fy 88 to FY92 for a total savings of $1.1 billion. The committee stated that full funding "must be restored by FY`93" in order to make the site fully operational by FY`95 "to handle required SDI and Space Station missions."(95) "Facility caretaker status," shutting most systems and further dropping employment, was an option that would allow further savings, while "mothballing" - shutting down all buildings and equipment - could save as much as $400 million annually.(96)

As of early October 1986, AF was evaluating requirments for operational caretaker status. On October 3, AF announced postponement of integrated test of Columbia with VLS facilities, ground systems, etc. Instead of being conducted in FY87, it will be done when VAFB is reactivated. VAFB officials said technical issues regarding VAFB had been or would be addressed. Work on hydrogen entrapment was still moving along, with ice suppression and pad stiffness needs requiring additional testing. Following a $7.3 million study the Air Force decided to use steam to solve the hydrogen entrapment problem. Lockheed was to design the steam system, which at an estimated cost ranging from $10 million to $50 million, would store hot water in pipes, recirculating it through boilers to keep the temperature stabilized before a launch. Hot water would be sprayed into the duct just before launch.(97) According to the official manifest, two DOD payloads were to be launched from VAFB in 1992, with a third scheduled to go up in 1994. (special classified projects and the Space Test Program experiments were to be launched on the Shuttle from VAFB).(98)

Small Launchers

An Athena II rocket which launched at 11:22 a.m. PDT from Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on April 27, 1999. The rocket did not achieve sufficient velocity to place the IKONOS 1 satellite into Earth orbit. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale, Calif., built the IKONOS 1 satellite for Denver-based Space Imaging. Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver built the Athena II rocket. The Athena rocket was scheduled to place the IKONOS 1 satellite into a circular orbit of 423 miles above the Earth. However, the Athena II's payload fairing did not separate properly. As a result of carrying the extra weight of the payload fairing, the rocket did not achieve sufficient velocity to place the IKONOS 1 satellite into Earth orbit. Any components that may have survived reentry would have fallen into the South Pacific Ocean.

The Minotaur launch vehicle is launched from the California Spaceport on south VAFB, near SLC-6 and is approximately 2.3 km (1.4 mi) from the south VAFB pinniped haul-out sites. The Minotaur launch vehicle is made up of modified Minuteman II Stage I and Stage II segments mated with Pegasus upper stages. The Minotaur is a small vehicle, approximately 19.2 m (63.0 ft) tall with approximately 215,000 lbs of thrust. Although the Minotaur produces less thrust than other larger launch vehicles, due to its close proximity to the south VAFB haul-out sites, it is one of the loudest vehicles at this site. Two Minotaur launch vehicles have been launched from VAFB (26 January 2000 and 19 July 2000).

The launch noise measured near the south VAFB haul-out sites was moderately loud, primarily due to the close proximity to the launch pad. The unweighted SEL measurements varied by 3.5 dB between the two launches and were measured to be 119.4 and 122.9 dB. The C-weighted SELs varied less and were measured at 116.6 and 117.9 dB. From the DAT and SLM measurements, the A-weighted SEL ranged from 104.9 to 107.0 dB. The launch noise reached an Lmax level of 101.7 and 103.4 dB.

Spaceport Systems International (SSI)

On September 19, 1996, the California Spaceport became the first launch site licensed by FAA/AST. In June 2001, FAA/AST renewed the spaceport's license for another five years. The California Spaceport offers commercial launch services and is operated and managed by Spaceport Systems International (SSI), a limited partnership between ITT Federal Service Corporation and California Commercial Spaceport, Inc. Co-located with Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast, SSI signed a 25-year lease in 1995 for 0.44 square kilometers (0.17 square miles) of land. Located at 34 North latitude, the California Spaceport can support a variety of mission profiles to low polar orbit inclinations, with possible launch azimuths ranging from 220 to 150.

Initial construction at California Spaceport's Commercial Launch Facility began in 1995 and was completed in 1999. The design concept is based on a 'building block' approach. Power and communications cabling is routed underground to provide a 'flat pad' with the flexibility to accommodate a variety of different launch systems. Although the facility currently is configured to support solid propellant vehicles, plans are in place to equip it with commodities required by liquid fueled boosters. The current configuration consists of the following infrastructure: pad deck, support equipment building, launch equipment vault, launch duct and stand, communications equipment, and launch control room. Final configuration awaits customer requirements. When fully developed, the Commercial Launch Facility will be able to accommodate a wide variety of launch vehicles including the Minuteman-based Minotaur, the Delta 3, and Castor 120-based vehicles.

Originally, the focus of the California Spaceport's payload processing services was on the refurbishment of the Payload Preparation Room. This room, located near SLC-6, is a clean room facility designed to process three Space Shuttle payloads simultaneously. It is now leased and operated by the California Spaceport as the Integrated Processing Facility. Today, payload-processing activities occur on a regular basis. The facility supports booster processing and administrative activities. It is capable of handling all customer payload-processing needs. This includes Delta 2- and Delta 4-class payloads as well as smaller payloads as required.

The spaceport receives limited financial support from the state in the form of grants. In 2000 it received about $180,000 to upgrade the breech load doors in the Integrated Processing Facility transfer tower. The modification was completed in March 2001, and the new transfer tower is now capable of accommodating 18-meter (60-foot) payloads. This will enable SSI to process and encapsulate satellites in support of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. In May 2001 SSI received approximately $167,000 to upgrade the satellite command and telemetry systems. There are plans to upgrade the launch site infrastructure for liquid vehicles and to build a new launch control center in the future. The state of California has also provided some support for California Spaceport business. In 2001 legislation was passed to remove the 'sunset' clause on tax exemptions for commercial satellites and boosters launched from VAFB, including California Spaceport.

The California Spaceport provides payload processing and orbital launch support services for both commercial and government users. The California Spaceport provided payload-processing services for three NASA satellites: Landsat 7, 1995; TIMED/Jason, December 2001; and Aqua, May 2002. The California Spaceport's first orbital launch was that of JAWSAT, a joint project of the Air Force Academy and Weber State University, on a Minotaur launch vehicle in July 2000. To date, the site has launched two Minotaur launch vehicles.

Delta 4

The Delta IV family of launch vehicles consists of 5 launch vehicle configurations utilizing a common booster core (CBC) first stage and 2 and 4 strap on GEMs. The Delta IV comes in four medium lift configurations and one heavy lift configuration consisting of multiple common booster cores. The Delta IV can carry payloads from 4,210 to 13,130 kg (9.281.3 to 28,946.2 lbs) into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

A new launch table that was constructed in the Pacific Northwest and shipped via barge is now in place at the pad. Work was done to modify the existing mobile service tower and mobile assembly tower that will support vehicle assembly and payload integration operations. Similar to SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., a Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) will be used to mate the common booster core (CBC) with the upper stage. The SLC-6 HIF features two processing bays and is approximately 62,500 square feet. A new dock facility is being developed to accommodate the Delta Mariner, a specially-designed vessel used to deliver CBCs from the factory in Decatur, Ala., to the launch sites. Elevating Platform Transporters will be used to transport the boosters from the dock to the HIF as well as inside the HIF.

The modification design effort was performed by Raytheon to maintain similar interfaces and processes as SLC-37. The Clark Construction Group performed the physical modification of SLC-6.

Elements of the project included a new 650-ton launch table, renovation & modifications to the 325-foot mobile service tower (MST), 270-foot tall mobile assembly shelter (MAS), and the 200-foot tall fixed umbilical tower (FUT). Clark renovated three existing structural steel towers that service the Delta IV vehicle on the pad during pre-launch operations. The MST features, new moveable-multi-level access platforms and a new 50-foot tall addition on the roof to house the new 50-ton overhead crane. The FUT doubles in size, and has a new 180-foot tall lightening tower on top of the structure and two 90-foot long cryogenic fueling swing arms. Clark also constructed one of the first utilized fixed pad erector to be built in the United States. The erector is a bridge deck that is 165-foot in length and weighs 186-tons, a component that elevates the vehicle from its horizontal to vertical position in lieu of stacking the rocket sections in place.

Clark and Thompson Metal Fabricators of Vancouver spent ten months building a 77 x 48 x 24-foot, 650-ton hollow, cathedral shaped structure off-site and outfitted it with a pre-assembled cryogenic utility skid made by Industrial Construction of Idaho Falls, Idaho. This structural steel monolith supports the Delta rocket on the launch pad and provides critical blast protection while supplying delicate fuel piping and electrical controls for liftoff. Vacuum jacketed piping and quick disconnect umbilical systems on the launch table supply super-cold liquid hydrogen (-430 F) and liquid oxygen (-360 F) fuel to the rocket.

Navigating one thousand nautical miles, Bragg Crane and Rigging transported the launch table by barge from Thompson Metal Fabricators' facility on the Columbia River near Portland, Ore. Once the launch table was offloaded at Vanderberg's SLC-6 wharf, it was then moved two miles over a winding road by way of a multi-wheeled transporter up to the oceanside launch pad.

Boeing chose a new horizontal processing method for the Delta IV, where the rocket is assembled and tested in a special onsite processing facility in a horizontal position and then taken to the pad and lifted to a vertical position for launch. Previously conventional rocket assembly and pre-launch testing has been done on the launch pad itself in a vertical position. The Delta IV horizontal processing allows multiple rockets to be prepared for launch simultaneously and is much more efficient. This pre-assembly and testing process saves money by reducing the length of time the Delta IV needs to be on the pad to about 10 days - 20 days less than previous rocket launches for Boeing. The SLC-6 retrofit comes from the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, where aerospace companies are encouraged to develop more powerful rockets and support systems that are so efficient they slash launch costs by 25%.

The Delta IV will be launched from SLC-6, which is 2.8 km (1.7 mi) north of the main harbor seal haul-out site at South Rocky Point. The Delta IV will be the loudest vehicle at the south VAFB harbor seal haul-out site. The Delta IV is predicted to have a sonic boom offshore of up to 7.2 psf for the largest of the medium configurations and 8 to 9 psf for the heavy configuration. The size and location of the actual sonic boom will depend on meteorological conditions, which can vary by day and season and with the trajectory of the vehicle.

In 2002 SSI won a ten-year Air Force satellite-processing contract for Delta 4-class four- and five- meter payloads. This contract complements an existing NASA ten-year payload-processing contract for Delta 2-class, three-meter payloads. SSI is working with several launch providers for National Missile Defense support.

The National Reconnaissance Office has contracted with SSI to provide space vehicle processing until 2011. This includes Delta 4-class payload processing support for multiple missions to be launched from Vandenberg. NASA and commercial Delta-class payloads are also processed for launch on the Delta 2, launched from SLC-2W on Vandenberg.

VLS Funding History - GAO figures in millions:(99)

year mil con total
prior 240.9 585.0
1981 89.9 269.9
1982 67.3 415.8
1983 52.7 409.6
1984 47.2 597.5
1985 16.3 553.4
1986 16.0 453.8
TOTAL: 530.3 3,285.0


1. "SLC-6 on the road to nowhere?" p.2

2. "KH-12 Reconnaissance Satellite Planned for Kennedy Launch," Aviation Week & Space Technology June 23, 1986 p.17

3. "Vandenberg Space Shuttle Launch Complex," United States Air Force Fact Sheet, WSMC, September 1981, p.1

4. "Vandenberg Space Shuttle Launch Complex," United States Air Force Fact Sheet, September 1981, p.1

5. "If the facility had been designed from scratch, the [DOD] would not now be facing a major uncertainty with its space shuttle program that is not being faced by NASA." Sasser report, p.8.

6. "Vandenberg Space Shuttle Launch Complex," United States Air Force Fact Sheet, September 1981, p.1

7. "Military Construction Activities Vandenaberg Space Shuttle Facility," Part 1 of a Staff Report, submitted by the Minority Staff Subcommittee on Military Construction, to the Committee on Appropriations United States Senate, June 1986, p.2

8. "Military Is Pushing Its Shuttle Program Amid Rising Debate," by Robert Lindsey, New York Times, November 1, 1981 p.1

9. Launch secrecy is typical of DOD missions. Now that the KH-12 has been shifted to the second planned VAFB launch, the first launch (Teal Ruby) will not be completely closed to the public and some media coverage will be allowed. Afterwards, all payload details and launch times will be classified. "Slick Six," by Edgar Ulsamer, Air Force Magazine, November 1985, p.51

10. "U.S. Readies New Space Facility," Washington Times, August 19, 1985, p.5

11. "Hearings on H.R. 11167," p.237

12. See for example, "Use of Shuttle Polar Orbit Jeopardized," Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 20, 1978, p.16

13. Space Shuttle Appropriations for FY 1979, testimony of Mr. Richard Gutmann, p.65

14. Space Shuttle Appropriations for FY 1979, GAO information submitted to hearing, p.81

15. "Hearings on H.R. 11167, before Mil Installations and Facilities Subcommittee of House committee on Armed Services, 95th, 2nd, 1978, pp.244,246

16. "Hearings on H.R. 11167," p. 244

17. letter submitted for congressional testimony, Space Shuttle Appropriations for 1979, p.401

18. "Space Shuttle Apps for 1979," p.88

19. The problems of sonic boom in densely populated areas around KSC was an additional consideration of those studying the issue of SLC-6. Ironically, the National Marine Fisheries Service sought in 1985 to ban some shuttle launches from VAFB because sonic booms could affect breeding seasons of six species of seals in the northern Channel Islands - "harrassment" under the Marine Mammel Protection Act. "Hectoring Pups," AW&ST, August 12, 1985 p.15

20. "Use of Shuttle Polar Orbit Jeopardized," AW&ST March 20, 1978, p.16

21. Space Shuttle Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1979, p.300

22. "NASA Replies to USAF Motion Sickness Concern," Aviation Week & Space Technology, December 6, 1982 p.27

23. "SLC-6 on the road to nowhere?" Military Space May 26, 1986, p.3

24. "Use of Shuttle Polar Orbit Jeopardized," Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 20, 1978 p.16

25. House Appropriations Mil Con subcommittee, 1982, on FY 1983 Mil Con Program, 97th, 2nd, Part 4 p.426

26. Information provided to Congress, I believe in 1977 from the Comptroller, although I'm not sure: STS facilities at VAFB "are intended to achieve an initial operating capability, late in 1982, using one launch pad.....A second launch pad and associated facilities scheduled for completion late in 1986 are still being evaluated." (p.1) Lists total cost in real year dollars for Launch Pad No. 1 and associated facilities: $830.1 m and if Pad No. 2 is needed: $340.3 m.(p.2) Said planned STS operational flow and facilities were based on considerations including "--A rate of 20 launches a year with a two-orbiter fleet.--Orbiter turnaround time of 205 hours." Noted changes since original planning: "A maximum rate of 40 launches a year from Kennedy Space Center and 20 launches a year from Vandenberg was based on a national traffic model of 572 launches during fiscal years 1980-92....The most current thinking is that there will be a total of 560 shuttle launches. This model provides for a maximum of 129 launches over a 10-year period (average of 13 per year) from Vandenberg....[T]wo orbiters [are] planned for use at Vandenberg....A congressional decision to approve less than a five-orbiter fleet for the STS could reduce the number of orbiters that will be available for use at Vandenberg."(p.3)


27. "Space Shuttle System Operation at Vandenberg Air Force Base," DOD For The Media report No. 81-84, July 1981

28. "U.S. Readies New Space Facility," Washington Times, August 19, 1985, p.5

29. According to SAMTO Commander Maj. Gen. Donald Henderson, noted in "Slick Six," by Edgar Ulsamer, Air Force Magazine, November 1985, p.49

30. A huge transportation vehicle was specially designed to transport the Shuttle along some 19 miles of roads in and around SLC-6."Aerospace World," Air Force Magazine February 1985, p.34

31. In 1985 it was reported in Aviation Week & Space Technology that for the first three launches, the Orbiter would be processed at KSC, and undergo only minor processing at VAFB OMCF. "NASA Air Force Decide to Delay Initial Vandenberg Shuttle Launch," January 14, 1985, p.24

32. "USAF Studies Shuttle Engine Exhaust Problem," AWST 1986 p.20

33. "Kennedy Experience Applied to Vandenberg Operations," Michael A. Dornheim, AWST, May 5, 1986, pp.55,56

34. "Slick Six," by Edgar Ulsamer, Air Force Magazine, November 1985, p.51

35. A VAFB spokesperson confirmed the existence of two payload cells in SLC-6 and two others in the Orbiter Maintenance and Checkout Facility. 2/3/87 phone conversation.

36. See for example, "Slick Six," by Edgar Ulsamer, Air Force Magazine, November 1985, pp.49-51' "Vandenberg Planning for the Space Transportation System," by Lt. Col. Aubrey B. Sloan, USAF, in Astronautics and Aeronautics, November 1981, pp.44-50; "USAF Nears Verification Checks of Vandenberg Launch Facilities," by Bruce A. Smith, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 21, 1985, p.79

37. "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," Appendix D

38. Parachutes will be refurbished at Kennedy, eliminating the need for a VAFB parachute refurbishing facility. A second cell at the HMFS*?* built. Only two cells at the tank facility were outfitted, and the tank will be transported in a single barge, rather than the four-tank barge originally envisioned. The orbiter maintenance facility was reconfigured to incorporate the functions of the orbiter safeing and deservicing facility, which was not built separately. And the South Vandenberg logistics facility, a warehouse, also was not constructed.

39. "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," Appendix D

40. Sasser, p. 19

41. "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," Appendix D

42. "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," p.10

43. Sasser, p.10

44. "Combined NASA, Defense Budget Studied on Shuttle," Craig Covault, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 24, 1983, pp.29

45. Deep Black, p.309

46. "Problems at Space Shuttle Site Touch Off Inquiry," Wayne Biddle, NYT, August 22, 1984. p.13; "AF on VAFB Problems:`None of This in News to Us,'" Aerospace Daily, August 23, 1984 p.299

47. "Senate Panel Reassured on VAndenberg Shuttle Facility," Aerospace Daily, September 11, 1984 p.42

48. "Air Force Releases Report on Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Shuttle Launch Complex," News Release from OASD, public affairs, September 18, 1984, p.1

49. "NASA/USAF DELAY FIRST VANDENBERG SHUTTLE LAUNCH," NASA News Release no. 85-4, January 8, 1985, p.1

50. "NASA, Air Force Decide to Delay Initial Vandenberg Shuttle Launch," Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 14, 1985, p.23

51. "All Quiet at SLC-6 in 1987," Military Space, June 24, 1985, p.6

52. NASA reportedly agreed to a series of "step functions" that would bring the Shuttle's payload capability from its maximum of 28,000 (with engines at 109% of rated power- which causes rapid wear) to 32,000 within five years. The step functions were to be cuts in the margins and retrofit of the FWC. "Slick Six," Edgar Ulsamer, Air Force Magazine, November 1985, pp.47,48

53. Two previous launch aborts at KSC had resulted in hydrogen buildup and may have started a fire outside the main cabin window of the orbiter. The problem was expected to be more serious at VAFB than at KSC. Sasser, pp.4,5.

54. "Vandenberg's Second Launch," Aerospace Daily, December 23, 1985, p.265

55. "Air Force Shows Off SlC-6," Military Space, January 20, 1986 p.5

56. "USAF Studies Shuttle Engine Exhaust Problem," p.20

57. "Space Shuttle: Issues Associated with the VAndenberg Launch Site," General Accounting Office, October 1986, NSIAD-87-32BR p.7

58. "Congress Weighs Closing Vandenberg," R. Jeffrey Smith, Science, July 4 1986, p.15

59. Sasser, p.4 The worst-case option for solving the hydrogen entrapment problem, according the the report, was to substantially modify the main engine launch mount duct to open it up to exhaust the collected hydrogen. This would be a "tremendous undertaking," costing several million dollars and taking until January 1989 (while an additional six months would then be needed to prepare for a launch). A best-case scenario might allow a launch by January 1988. pp.6,7

60. "USAF May Delay Vandenberg Shuttle Launches," AW&ST, May 19, 1986 p.30; "Air Force Studying Options for Vandenberg Shuttle Launch Start," Defense Daily, May 23, 1986, p.134

61. "Air Force Studies Delaying Shuttle," John J. Cushman, Jr. New York Times, May 21, 1986

62. "Air Force Studies Delaying Shuttle," John J. Cushman, Jr. New York Times, May 21, 1986

63. "Air Force Studies Delaying Shuttle," John J. Cushman, Jr. New York Times, May 21, 1986

64. "Congress Weighs Closing Vandenberg," p.15

65. In March 1985, ten months before the Challenger disaster the Air Force awarded Martin Marietta a $5 million contract to design an advanced Titan ELV. The move probably was prompted by the difficulties in increasing the shuttle's lift capacity. Ten were ordered at a cost of $2.09 billion, with an option to order more. The Air Force specified that the CELV carry payloads the size of those carried by the shuttle; they should be able to carry a lightened KH-12. Deep Black p. 304

66. "AND CELVS:" Aerospace Daily, March 3, 1986, p.329; "SLC-6 On the Road to Nowhere?" Military Space, May 26, 1986, p.2; "Aldridge Defends Shuttle-Vandenberg Planning," Aerospace Daily, June 19, 1986 p.450

67. "White Elephant," L.A. Times, July 9, 1986

68. Sasser, pp.17, 18

69. "USAF Studies Shuttle Engine Exhaust Problem," p.20

70. "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle," pp.13-15

71. Sasser, pp.10-12. quote p.12

72. Sasser, p.13

73. Sasser, p.16

74. Sasser, p.15,16

75. "Coming Back in Space," James W. Canan, Air Force Magazine, February 1987 p.?

76. Sasser, p.20

77. It also would be able to lift the same weight as the shuttle into geosynchronous orbit, and nearly 40,000 pounds into a 100-mile due east orbit. "Military Construction Activities Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," Part I of a Staff Report Submitted to the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, by the Minority Staff Subcommittee on Military Construction, June 1986, p.21

78. "Congress Weighs Closing Vandenberg," p.16; Stafford letter to Secretary of Defense Weinberger, June 17, 1986. His subcommittee was told by some observers that "space shuttle launches from Vandenberg, dedicated solely to military missions, would not become necessary, unless a Strategic Defense Initiative were to be deployed." "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," p.22 TEXT?

79. "Slick Six," Edgar Ulsamer, p.51

80. The policy presupposed a fleet of at least six orbiters."Slick Six," p.51; see also Deep Black p.304

81. Deep Black, p.304

82. "Secret Shuttle Mission May Be Shifted to Florida," by William J. Broad, New York Times June 21, 1986; "KH-12 Reconnaissance Satellite Planned for Kennedy Launch," Aviation Week & Space Technology, June 23, 1986 p.17

83. "SLC-6 On the Road to Nowhere? " Military Space, May 26, 1986 p.1

84. "Some high priority payloads...have, in recent years, been designed to be carried only in the shuttle....[S]uch payloads will not now be launched from Vandenberg, because the facilities will not support a launch. Instead, these payloads will be launched from Kennedy...." "Military Construction Activities, Vandenberg Space Shuttle Facility," 1986 p.21

85. Sasser, p.22

86. "Weinberger Stresses Importance of Vandenberg Shuttle Launches," Aerospace Daily, June 20, 1986, p.460 and "Weinberger Says Vandenberg Essential to Military Mission," Defense Daily, June 20, 1986, p.282

87. "Aldridge Fends Off SLC-6 Mothballs," Military Space, June 23, 1986, p.2

88. "A;dridge Not to Mothball V-berg," Military Space, August 4, 1986, p.?

89. "Aldridge Defends Shuttle-Vandenberg Planning," Aerospace Daily, June 19, 1986, p.450

90. "Spaceport West," Danald E. Fink, AWST, April 14, 1986, p.11

91. "Other observers have pointed out that space shuttle launches from Vandenberg, dedicated solely to military missions, would not become necessary, (sic) unless a Strategic Defense Initiative were to be deployed." Sasser, p.22.

92. "Air Force Presses to Mothball Vandenberg Shuttle Complex," AW&ST, July 28, 1986, p.16

93. GAO Report oct 86 p. 5

94. That is term that Aldridge preferred to "mothballed" - "mothballed" he said, "is where you close the door, lock it and have somebody cut the grass, and that's not what we're going to do." "`Mothball' vs. `Caretaker'," Aerospace Daily, August 4, 1986, p.185

95. "House Appropriation Deletes AF Shuttle Payment to NASA in `87," Defense Daily, September 3, 1986, p.8; Shuttle operations at Vandenberg reportedly are expected to cost roughly $400 million annually. "VANDENBERG MOTHBALLS:" Aerospace Daily, March 3, 1986, p.329

96. Sasser, pp.23,24

97. "Steam Will be Used to Prevent Explosions at VAFB Shuttle Site," Gail Stelger, January 10, 1987

98. GAO REport October 1986, p.9

99. "Space Shuttle: Issues Associated With the Vandenberg Launch Site," GAO, Briefing Report to the Ranking Miniority (sic) Member, Subcommittee on Military Construction, Committee on Appropriations United States Senate, October 1986, p.16

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