With less than 3 weeks from our Kick Off Retreat it was time for LSMV Class 2016’s first Topic Day. We are headed out to Vandenberg AFB– this is not the usual public relations tour– it is one of the highlights of the year. Many thanks to Larry Hill, Chief Public Relations VAFB and graduate of the Class of 2012 for arranging a stellar tour.
We met at the Board Room to do a headcount and then carpool out to base. As security was tight, we needed to be on base at 0800.
We met the Vice Wing CC at 0830 and received the standard CC PowerPoint brief regarding the Mission of 30th Space Wing. Then we headed over to the Missile Alert Facility– this was a real treat as we usually do not get to visit the MAF. They were getting ready to test one of the silo missiles from up North here on base. The missile ( minus warhead) is selected from Northern Tier base and then shipped to VAFB for a test launch after being refitted with safety features and guidance capability – in case the crews must destroy missile in flight. A missile crew from Northern Tier base comes with missile to help set it up and then they ‘pull alert’ in the VAFB MAF until missile launch. Launch is later this year- it takes 2-3 months to get the entire system ready to go. Very fascinating tour!
Had a BBQ lunch at the Museum, sponsored by Judi Kincaid, Premier Designs Jewelry . Jay had it all ready to go for us. We were a bit late as there was a road delay on the way to the MAF which set us back the entire day. So we had a really quick spin thru the Heritage Center. Jay was his usual knowledgeable and enthusiastic self and they all want to come back and see more!!
Then we headed over to Space Launch Complex 6 where the Class got to see the starting stages of Delta 4 rocket in the hanger. They thought this was beyond cool. We walked down into the flame pit which was impressive and then took the elevator up 20-30 stories into the SLC and saw the booster up close. They also saw the rollers that are rolled back on launch day- takes over 30 minutes to completely pull away.
Our last tour of the day was the WROCC Western Range Operations Center–we were running late and they had more security in place than usual so it was a whirlwind tour– the civilians were essentially gone and the computers shut down. But they did get to see how the tracking systems work and all the various stations -weather, train/plane tracking etc. The Commander of the WROCC came out to personally meet us and was with us on the tour. His troops were very professional and gave us a very good tour even though the center was more or less ‘closed’
As always Team Vandenberg was enthusiastic and very glad to see us! Everywhere we visited it was apparent they all are proud of what they do and are more than happy to explain and show us what they do at the base. Larry Hill always puts together a great agenda– but in the 8 years I have been on this tour– I have to say – this one was out of the ballpark! The only downside was- it had to be the hottest day since the space program began out there