Press Release

Vandenberg launch facility gets facelift

By SpaceRef Editor
January 30, 2003
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A launch facility on Vandenberg, virtually abandoned since the 1960s, now has a new life as a testing area for boosters slated for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Program.

And with the new mission comes a facelift.

LF-23, a Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile facility, is undergoing a massive refurbishment. Last week, a 110-foot flatbed truck brought crews a steel sleeve, weighing in at 118,000 pounds, said Mike Jackson, site manager for Bechtel International, which has been contracted to complete the refurbishment. This week, crews will fit the sleeve into the existing silo and pour cement to fill the space between them.

The renovations are expected to be complete by March, said Capt. Carrie Brackett, Detachment 9, Space and Missile Systems Center test program manager. Another Vandenberg launch facility, LF-21, will also be used to test boosters. That area was renovated three years ago.

In order to accommodate the large and heavy vehicle with the steel sleeve, the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron completed some roadwork.

“CE really stepped up to the plate to get this done. It was a big job. Among other things, there were a lot of potholes to fill and they did it all very quickly and over the Christmas timeframe,” Brackett said.

Environmental teams also had to deal with a legacy left from the 1960s — removal of lead-based paint and asbestos.

Boosters for four operational interceptors are scheduled to be in place here by 2005, said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, National Missile Defense Agency spokesman. The interceptors are part of the missile defense program announced by President Bush last year.

Booster tests, scheduled to begin in spring of this year, are a risk-reduction phase for the operational interceptors, said Brackett.

“The vehicles will have no payload associated with them; theyĆ­ll be booster tests only,” she said.

SpaceRef staff editor.