Damn spaceport

September 25, 2012 15:45

Damn spaceport

MOL and angry Elder
The first space launch from the West test site was made in 1959: the machine started "Discovery-1." Over the years the landfill to expand, and in 1966 it was decided to prepare a stage for a powerful new media "Titan-3M". It was intended for launching a military space laboratory MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory). While in the United States became popular concept of two space stations.
One station, a large, planned for scientific purposes, the second, a little — to solve military problems, particularly the nature of intelligence.
MOL was designed based on the two-seat spacecraft "Gemini" with built him a residential unit the size of a trailer. The first launch was scheduled for the end of 1968, so the construction of the launch pad was carried out at high speed.

Nearest to the construction land bought up government. Their owners did not mind — the land in these places barren, and who wants to live next to a roaring launch pad? By March 12, 1966 all the formalities have been settled, and bulldozers began to clear the site for construction. During earthmoving machines revealed an ancient burial Chumash Indians.

This is a small tribe of ancient times lived in southern California, engaged in hunting, fishing and gathering, but with the arrival of the white man has been slowly die of epidemics. By the mid-1960s, the Indians have already lost their native language, but continued to hold on to their beliefs. And soulless machinery white man penetrated their burial ground … As a result of the bulldozers on the surface were whitewashed time human bones. As soon as this became known to the Indians, they were bombarded with the requirements of government authorities to stop the construction. Chumash claimed not to disturb peace of the dead and desecrate holy places. But the arguments for the Indian government sounded unconvincing. Construction continued, and angry tribal elder Chumash put a curse on the SLC-6 and all related projects.

Restructuring under the shuttles

Initially, at the airbase over it all just laughed. It's no good because modern people serious about that kind of atavism. It turned out — in vain laughed. The construction of the launch complex was completed by mid-1969, but the design of the module MOL, for which, in fact, everything was started, came late. The first launch of a small military space station initially postponed until 1972, and then President Nixon abolished altogether this ambitious program. The need for MOL clearly fell away, as with intelligence tasks have done quite well to cheaper auto spy satellites that are constantly improving. Launch complex number 6, which was expended more than one billion dollars, was mothballed.

In 1984, the ill-fated project was reborn. SLC-6 now decided to convert to a launch site for the space shuttle. The place seemed just perfect, because Slick Six on three sides by mountains, and the fourth is the sea. Curious citizens and treacherous spies were able to see the launch site a few moments, passing on the nearby railway.

It soon became clear that collecting shuttle outdoors is impossible, but with the existing 1960s building for this purpose were not good. Therefore built a mobile tower height of 76 meters, which spent nearly $ 80 million instead of the 40 originally planned. But the troubles were just beginning. Found that because of the constant high risk of freezing fog external tank ship.
To avoid this, experts have designed the machine with two turbojet engines, giving a flow of warm air through the diffuser above the tank. However, spending $ 13 million, the inventors unexpectedly said they did not believe in the effectiveness of the installation and that by the end it will not solve the problem …

Problems grew like a snowball. Reports on the construction of store stories of sabotage, of the use of drugs and alcohol workers, about a 16-hour day welders.

It came down to the fact that the construction interested in the FBI. The investigation revealed a lot of shocking facts: at SLC-6 was discovered more than eight thousand defective welds, many lines were cut or split, and the important valves — clogged with debris. Were incorrectly designed gazovody to drain the liquid hydrogen flowing from the main engines in case of cancellation of the launch, and the shuttle to the launch mount trunk was excessively harsh. As a result, the probability of failure is running with the launch complex number six space shuttle experts have estimated at 20%. President Reagan and the leadership of the Air Force continued to insist on the need to complete the reconstruction of SLC-6, but it ended up being complex, the value of which reached eight billion dollars, again mothballed.

Unlucky tenants

But this is not always the same unfinished rust under the sunny skies of California! In 1994, Slick Six leased known company "Lockheed", conceived to use it to launch a new family raketnositeley "Athena." August 15, 1995 from launch complex number 6 Rising Up small rocket LLV-1 commercial satellite communications. At one point it seemed that the curse of the Chumash elders expired. Start was successful, but in the fourth minute rocket flight was abruptly change course until it rushed back to the California coast. Service mission control could do nothing but to blow it over bottomless waters of the Pacific.

Investigations into the causes of the accident led to the introduction of improvements in the design of the carrier. The customer a new start with Slick Six became NASA. August 22, 1997 lokhidovskaya rocket successfully launched a satellite designed by the agency "Lewis" in orbit, but it took only four days, and the satellite lost control. "Lewis" became chaotic tumble, quickly ran out of battery life and, despite persistent attempts to regain control of the end of September was burned in the atmosphere over the South Atlantic Ocean.

After two years of inactivity newly appeared enlarged complex aerospace giant "Lockheed Martin" again attempted to overcome the curse of the Indians. History repeated itself in many ways. April 27, 1999 launch vehicle "Athena-2", seemed to have put into orbit commercial satellite, which was designed for high-resolution photographs of the Earth surface, when a vehicle stopped receiving telemetry data, and ground station in Alaska since and was unable to locate the satellite. Findings of the commission that investigated the causes of the most advanced technology of the next failure to ancient superstitions, were limited to what is probably fairing did not separate from the upper stage and the satellite could not reach orbit.

Since 2000, the SLC-6 was taken over by other aerospace giant — the company "Boeing". New tenants set out to convert the launch site to launch powerful rockets "Delta-4." But, apparently, much success in their endeavors have not achieved. In any case, his newest spaceship X-37 in his highly secret mission to orbit the firm "Boeing" prefer to go from launch pad SLC-41 Air Base Cape Canaveral. On the runway Vandenberg Air Force Base, he just landed at the end of the flight.

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