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Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4

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Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4

Space Launch Complex 4
Final Titan IV launch from SLC-4E
Launch site Vandenberg AFB
Location 34.632706°N
120.613393°W
Short name SLC-4
Operator US Air Force
SpaceX (4E from 2011)
Total launches 162
Launch pad(s) 2
Minimum / maximum
orbital inclination
51° – 145°
SLC-4W (PALC-2-3) launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 93
First launch 12 July 1963
Atlas-Agena D / OPS-1467
Last launch 18 October 2003
Titan 23G / USA-172
Associated rockets Atlas LV-3 Agena-D
Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D
Titan IIIB
Titan 23G
SLC-4E (PALC-2-4) launch history
Status Active
Launches 69
First launch 14 August 1964
Atlas-Agena D / OPS 3802
Last launch 29 September 2013
Falcon 9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE
Associated rockets Atlas LV-3 Agena-D
Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D
Titan IIID
Titan 34D
Titan IV
Falcon 9
Falcon Heavy (future)

Space Launch Complex 4 (SLC-4) is a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base with two pads, one of which is used by SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. The complex was used by Atlas and Titan rockets between 1963 and 2005. It consisted of two launch pads, SLC-4W and SLC-4E, which were formerly designated PALC2-3 and PALC2-4 respectively. Both pads were built for use by Atlas-Agena rockets, but were later rebuilt to handle Titan rockets. The designation SLC-4 was applied at the time of the conversion to launch Titans.[1]

Space Launch Complex 4E is currently leased by SpaceX as a launch site for the Falcon 9 rocket, which first flew from Vandenberg on 29 September 2013.[2] A 24 month refurbishment program started in early 2011.[3][4]

SLC-4W

History

A Titan 23G on SLC-4W

Atlas-Agena

The first launch to use what is now SLC-4 occurred on 12 July 1963, when an Atlas LV-3 Agena-D launched the first KH-7 Gambit reconnaissance satellite, from PALC2-3. Twelve Atlas-Agenas launches were conducted from PALC2-3, with the last occurring on 12 March 1965.

Titan IIIB

Following this, it was rebuilt as SLC-4W, a Titan launch complex. The first Titan launch from SLC-4W was a Titan IIIB, on 29 July 1966. All 70 Titan IIIB launches occurred from SLC-4W, with the last on 12 February 1987.

Titan 23G

After the retirement of the Titan IIIB, it became a Titan 23G launch site, and twelve Titan II launches, using the 23G orbital configuration, were conducted between 5 September 1988 and 18 October 2003. Following the retirement of the Titan 23G, SLC-4W was deactivated. 93 rockets were launched from SLC-4W.

SLC-4W was the site of the launch of Clementine, the only spacecraft to be launched from Vandenberg to the Moon, which was launched by a Titan 23G on 25 January 1994.

Future uses

As of July 2014, NASAspaceflight.com published that SpaceX is considering leasing SLC-4W for use as a Return-To-Launch-Site (RTLS) vertical-landing facility for reusable first-stage boosters of the Reusable Falcon 9 (F9R) and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles that would be launched from SLC-4E.[5]

Principal structures on the pad were demolished in September of 2014 as refurbishment began.[6]

Launch history

Date Launch Vehicle Payload
12 July, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
06 September, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
25 October, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
18 December, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
25 February, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
11 March, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
23 April, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
19 May, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
06 July, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit / P-11
23 October, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit / P-11
23 January, 1965 Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit
12 March, 1965 Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit


SLC-4E

Atlas-Agena

The first launch from PALC2-4 occurred on 14 August 1964, when a KH-7 satellite was launched by an Atlas-Agena D. After 27 Atlas-Agena launches, the last of which was on 4 June 1967, the complex was deactivated.

Titan IIID

Titan IIID launch from SLC-4E

During 1971 the complex was reactivated and refurbished for use by the Martin Marietta Titan III launch vehicles. The Titan IIID made its maiden flight from SLC-4E on 15 June 1971, launching the first KH-9 Hexagon satellite.[7] The first KH-11 Kennan satellite was launched from the complex on 19 December 1976.[8] All 22 Titan IIIDs were launched from SLC-4E, with the last occurring on 17 November 1982.

Titan 34D

The complex was then refurbished to accommodate the Martin Marietta Titan 34D. Seven Titan 34Ds were launched between 20 June 1983, and 6 November 1988. On 18 April 1986, a Titan 34D exploded less than nine seconds after launch, showering debris over the launch pad.[9]

Titan IV

The last type to use the complex was the Titan IV, starting on 8 March 1991, with the launch of Lacrosse 2. On 19 October 2005, the last flight of a Titan rocket occurred, when a Titan IVB was launched from SLC-4E, with an Improved Crystal satellite. Following this launch, the complex was deactivated, having been used for 68 launches.

Falcon

SpaceX refurbished SLC–4E for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches,[2][10] in a 24-month process that began in early 2011.[3] The draft environmental impact assessment with a finding of "no significant impact" was published in February 2011.[3] Demolition began on the pad's fixed and mobile service towers in summer 2011.[11]

By late 2012, SpaceX continued to anticipate that the initial launch from the Vandenberg pad would be in 2013, but would be a Falcon 9 launch—actually, a heavily modified and much larger Falcon 9 v1.1.[12] As the pad was nearing completion in February 2013, the first Falcon 9 launch was scheduled for summer 2013,[13] but was launched on 29 September 2013, and was the maiden flight of the Falcon 9 v1.1 configuration, carrying Canada's CASSIOPE satellite.[14]

References

  1. ^ Air Force FOIA electronic reading room: List of launches from SLC-4 East and West
  2. ^ a b Simburg, Rand. "SpaceX Press Conference". Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Scully, Janene (2011-02-05). "Report: Falcon plan OK for environment".  
  4. ^ "http://www.spacex.com/updates.php". SpaceX. 15 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Bergin, Chris (2014-07-28). "SpaceX Roadmap building on its rocket business revolution". NASAspaceflight. Retrieved 2014-07-28. At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment 
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYpDwS7HgEk&feature=youtu.be
  7. ^ Wade, Mark. "Titan". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  8. ^ "Titan 3D". Gunther's Space Page. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  9. ^ http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1268/1
  10. ^ "SpaceX announces launch date for FH". 
  11. ^ "http://www.spacex.com/updates.php". SpaceX. 15 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "SpaceX Gears Up for Launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base". Space News. 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  13. ^ "First look/SpaceX Launch Complex/Vandenberg AFB". dailybreeze.com. 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2013-04-01. 
  14. ^ Space.com, SpaceX Falcon 9 From Vandenberg AFB Near Perfect (accessed 5 August 2014)
  • Wade, Mark. "Vandenberg SLC4W". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  • Wade, Mark. "Vandenberg SLC4E". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 

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