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CHIPS Articles: Providing access to space through innovation

Providing access to space through innovation
By Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks, 30th Space Wing - June 19, 2019
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- As the space domain continues to grow, so does the need for access to space.

The U.S. Air Force and Space Command are powered by innovation. Because of this, Vandenberg Air Force Base is continually making improvements to base facilities, equipment and the way Airmen and operation partners do their job in order to complete the space mission.

“Our mission is to provide robust, relevant and efficient spaceport and range capabilities for the nation,” said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander. “However, as space domain progresses, so must we.”

The installation has come a long way since 1958, when it was repurposed from a deactivated U.S. Army training camp, to a U.S. Air Force missile launch and training base. Since then, the base has developed better amenities to increase productivity and has expanded its launch facilities, allowing space for more commercial partners.

There are many different components. Whether it be Airmen, mission partners, commercial partners or contractors, who contribute to successfully launching a missile or satellite at Vandenberg AFB, each diverse role plays an important part to accomplishing the mission.

“On day of launch, we provide mission assurance. We provide technical oversight of everything happening to assure no incidents occur,” said Lt. Col. Brian Chatman, 1st Air and Space Test Squadron commander. “We’re shifting our methodology for how we provide mission assurance from days-of-old, to days-of-new for a more practical approach.”

Members of the 1st ASTS continuously implement innovations regarding space lift operations by evaluating, operating and emerging current launch and landing operations. By assessing the Space Launch Complex modifications that industry partners create, the 1st ASTS engineers ensure they understand the changes or modifications made, as well as, evaluate any risks that are associated with the changes.

“Airmen from the squadron are taking tactical approaches, tailoring analysis to provide risk assessments to the commander of the Space and Missile Center for a flight worthiness certification,” Chatman said.

Through maintaining the range and retaining Airmen, Vandenberg AFB is creating a better chance of accessing space through members of 30th SW such as 1st ASTS, as well as tenant units and mission partners. With the help of each squadron and various tenant units on base, the mission continues to be successful.

“This is an exciting time in the space community and I’m looking forward to working even closer with allies and partners to guarantee unconstrained access to and freedom to operate in space,” Hough said.

Through expansion and revamping of routines and facilities, innovative Airmen continue to improve Vandenberg AFB range capabilities, supporting not only the current mission, but future generations and their access to space.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test, Feb. 5, 2019 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Whether it be 30th Space Wing Airmen, mission partners, both government agencies and private companies or contractors, who contribute to launching a missile or rocket at Vandenberg AFB, each diverse role plays an important part in accomplishing the mission. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test, Feb. 5, 2019 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Whether it be 30th Space Wing Airmen, mission partners, both government agencies and private companies or contractors, who contribute to launching a missile or rocket at Vandenberg AFB, each diverse role plays an important part in accomplishing the mission. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aubree Milks
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