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The Cape: Military Space Operations 1971-1992


This is the companion volume to an earlier work, "The 6555th: Missile and Space Launches Through 1970." It presents the Air Force's space launch operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) from the beginning of 1971 through 2 July 1992. Though the focus of this monograph is the 6555th Aerospace Test Group's operations at the Cape, the work places those activities within the larger context of U.S. Air Force space operations conducted under two major commands: Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Space Command. The last chapter presents a brief review of NASA, Defense Department and Eastern Space and Missile Center (ESMC) studies that address future space operations at the Cape.

This is an unclassified monograph, so details concerning launch vehicle performance on classified space flights are limited by strict security guidelines. References to other aspects of classified space programs are presented in their officially releasable context. Many of the 6555th's efforts involved unclassified programs (e.g., DSCS, NAVSTAR II, FLTSATCOM, NATO III, etc.), so the details of those operations can be presented as openly as possible. Thus, while security considerations have limited our story somewhat, we believe the reader will come away with an objective picture of the Cape's military space operations after 1970.

This monograph could never have been written without the conscientious efforts of Mr. Marven R. Whipple, the Air Force Eastern Test Range history staff, and the dozens of officers, airmen and civilians who contributed historical reports on the 6555th's various offices, branches and divisions. Five other people deserve special thanks for their efforts: Ms. Jan Crespino printed the initial drafts of the monograph; Lt. Colonel Richard W. Sirmons (USAF Reserve) did the formatting and layout of the work and printed the camera-ready proofs; Mr. Jeffrey Geiger provided key photos from Vandenberg AFB; Dr. Timothy C. Hanley and Dr. Harry N. Waldron, III reviewed the manuscript and provided additional photographic support. Dr. Hanley and Dr. Waldron also deserve special recognition for their comprehensive treatment of space operations in nearly two decades of SAMSO, Space Division, and Space Systems Division histories. All the aforementioned individuals have provided valuable services to the Air Force History Program and the heritage of the Air Force at large.


January 1994

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