Back from Vandenberg


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In my trip to Vandenberg Air Force Base yesterday to give a lecture to their local AIAA chapter, I got a quick drive around the southern parts of the base where the Atlas 5, Delta, and SpaceX launchpads are located. This is the same area I toured when I last visited the base back in March 2015.

I had been curious to see the fire damage from the fall wildfires. Unfortunately, a fog bank had rolled in and made it impossible to see the hills behind the launchpads where the fires had raged. I did see some fire damage within several hundred feet of a liquid nitrogen storage facility, but otherwise the clouds prevented me from seeing any of the wildfire damage.

The one item of interest that I did see was at the SpaceX launchpad. While we could not enter the facility, we could see in plain sight the first stage of the next planned Falcon 9 launch. They had hoped to lift off this week, but delayed the launch last week until January to complete the investigation into the September 1 launchpad explosion. Nonetheless, the first stage was there, lying horizontal out in the open air. Several nozzles were removed from the engine array at the stage’s base. Whether they were removed as part of the investigation, or as part of standard maintenance, I do not know.

3 comments

  • DougSpace

    How was it that you were able to get a tour of the base?

  • DougSpace: Uh, I think I have been pretty clear about this. I was invited there to give a lecture to the base’s AIAA chapter, and the chapter officers were glad to take me around.

    This wasn’t a “tour” however. Instead, we had some spare time, and drove down to the launchpad areas of ULA and SpaceX. I was hoping to get a sense of forest damage caused by the fall wildfires, but the fog made that impossible.

  • D.K. Williams

    LOL. Yes, the fog rolls in every afternoon at Vandenberg. Remember it well.

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