Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vandenberg AFB Delta II Launch a Soaring Success

This morning, the girls and I took the short drive toward Vandenberg Air Force Base to get a closer view of one of their launches. The base launches various sorts of rockets throughout the year. The rumble often calls us out of the house to watch the rocket head toward space or out to sea.

I've wanted to get a closer look at a launch for YEARS, but the windows, the opportunity to launch, are often so long that I've forgone the adventure. The idea of sitting for two to four hours staring at an inanimate launch pad just really doesn't do it for me. Particularly if there's no launch reward. Many of the launches are very late at night/early in the morning (if you can even call those hours "morning").

But today's launch of the Delta II carrying a DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 spacecraft for Boeing Launch Services was perfect for family viewing. The launch window opened at 11:38 a.m. PST and closed at 11:51 a.m. PST - a mere 13-minute window, 13 minutes of waiting for what could be a launch, or a scrub (called off launch). The weather was beautiful: sunny across the base, marine layer out at sea, an occasional slight breeze. It was so peaceful out there. We listened the bees buzzing around the sticky monkey flowers and coyote bushes, sage and manzanita, the breeze blowing through the chapparal and our hair. Then, the launch.

It gave up quite a rumble, but I was sort of disappointed that it wasn't remarkably louder there than it typically is at our house. I thought it really would be a LOT louder being some 20 miles closer to the pad. Still, the view was wonderful, our fellow viewers friendly, and the idea of all those people working together to make this happen - from designers and dreamers to painters and welders, even the port-a-potty guy - fantastic!

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  1. I love to watch the rocket motor tests here in Utah, but I have never seen anything actually launch in real life, that didn't fall back to us to catch. Cool fun science. Your long distance pictures look like mine, could use a little lens cleaning. But, our cameras never go anywhere to get dirty do they!

  2. Unfortunately, it's not the lens. It's the sensor, and I don't want to lose my camera long enough to send it in. I'll have to look up a home remedy for that....

  3. Very cool! We missed the launch. I think my kids would have really enjoyed that. We were just sitting at time. :) See you guys tomorrow at Thea's house for art class, right?


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