Author Topic: Vandenberg Missions  (Read 6873 times)

Offline Ben E

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Vandenberg Missions
« on: 11/21/2005 03:04 PM »
Does anyone know anything about plans for "Blue Shuttle" missions out of Vandenberg from 1986 onwards?

The only mission I can find information about in anything close to enough 'detail' is the 62A flight with Teal Ruby and Cirris. I've heard that 62B may have carried the Lacrosse radar-imaging satellite that later flew aboard STS-27, but what of the others? Would they ALL have been classified military flights, or would there have been civilian ones, too? I'm aware, for example, that the planned Landsat-4 repair mission was to be staged out of Vandenberg.

Can anyone shed any light, or possibly suggest links, on any of these mysterious missions?

As regards countdown procedures and so on, would the Vandenberg missions have followed the same routine as KSC launches?

Thanks.

Ben

Offline Martin FL

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #1 on: 11/21/2005 05:20 PM »
I read that the plan was to build three more Orbiters and use them for launches out of Vandenberg. STS-51L changed all that, including the cooling of the cold war.

Offline anik

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #2 on: 11/21/2005 05:45 PM »
Ben E, Russian books also confirm that the Lacrosse 1 launch was planned in the 62-B flight... By the way, in the 62-B crew was unofficially assigned Katherine Roberts (in November 1985) and Lawrence Skantze (in September 1985)...

Offline Rob in KC

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #3 on: 11/24/2005 12:52 AM »
Did they ever build a Shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg, and if so, is it still there, pictures?

Offline Rocket Guy

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #4 on: 11/24/2005 02:20 AM »
Yes, and it's the Delta 4 pad now. Enterprise was fit checked there. And Discovery was months away from being officially transferred to the Air Force when 51L happened; she was to be their Shuttle starting in 1986.

http://www.ktb.net/~billmeco/Slc6a.html

You can see four pages of photos there from the fit check.

Offline Ben E

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #5 on: 11/24/2005 07:40 AM »
Ben,

Had the DoD actually PURCHASED Discovery from NASA?

How many flights per year were expected to be staged out of Vandenberg and what was the proportion of military/civilian?

Thanks

Offline Steve_the_Deev

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #6 on: 11/28/2005 01:28 PM »
I worked at SLC-6 after it was modified from the Air Force's MOLE project days to get it Shuttle ready.
The Shuttle needed the new Kevlar/carbon fiber wrapped SRBs due to the lighter weight to get to the Polar orbits they needed.  So off we went from KSC Fl I as an MPS guy had to right all the procedures to "Process" a Shuttle at SLC-6.  The following info is not well known apparently, oh yeah we built SLC-6 on a very old Indian Burial mound...very bad Karma.

Then up came the Hydrogen problem.  At KSC that was solved with the Spark ignighters which come on at around T-10 secs to burn off residual GH2. Also Vandenberg's Launch Pad called SLC-6 was down in a "Bowl" I guess you could call it.  Very large hills/mountains surrounded about 2/3rds of the Pad.  That right there was an unsolvable problem with a manned Shuttle.

The theory was once the Shuttle stack lifted off and it cleared the MST the  shock waves and vibrations would rebound off the surrounding terrain, what is called the Center of Percusion.  Designers were very concrned that this high aero/pressure loading which formed at some mystical point above the Pad (if we had a few Cray super computers we could've figured out the real story)could cause major problems.  Passing through this region could have ripped the stack apart!  

Second big reason we never launched a Shuttle from Vandenberg was the Filament wound SRBs were not up to spec at the fieldjoints for strength.  Long story short SLC-6 finally recieved the death blow when Challenger blew up. Due to an O-ring seal burn through which as you know resealed temporaraly then as they passed through Max Q and the go for Throttle up was given the vehicles lower SRB strut had been cut through by the exhaust gases leaking through the compromised Field Joint O-ring.  Once the bottom strut failed it kicked outward forcing the top of the SRB to rupture the LOX tank and then the LH2 Tank. Mix LOX and LH2 you don't get an explosion you get a giant fireball.  I was privy to the cockpit tapes and it was very hard to listen to the crew as the vehicle came apart.  That's a story for another time. (see here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=954&posts=1)

Nope we never launched a Shuttle from VAFB.   What the AF did do was to upgrade the Titan rocket to the TITAN IVB and it carried the large payloads.  At KSC what we did was made some adjustments to the flight software and installed larger SSME nozzles to get to a semi Polar Orbit if need be.

Also, we found out that by using the upgraded TITAN IVB from KSC it could carry NRO,DoD heavy payloads to Polar by using the upper stage Centaur engines. The need for a Shuttle and all that infrastructure at VAFB was wasted in a sense. Now Boeing is using my old Pad (SLC-6) for their new Delta 4 rocket !  I am proud to say we (LockheedMartin) did launch the Athena commercial rocket from SLC-6, 3 launches.  We stacked the Athena on the Shuttle's old Launch mount!

Hope that clears up things1 :)

Offline Rocket Guy

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RE: Vandenberg Missions
« Reply #7 on: 11/28/2005 08:02 PM »
Quote
Ben E - 24/11/2005  3:40 AM

Ben,

Had the DoD actually PURCHASED Discovery from NASA?

Thanks

I'm not positive if it was a purchase or what, or whether it was made before Challenger; maybe Steve can answer that one.


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