1st ASTS innovate to complete mission

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Benjamin Grimsley
  • 1st Air and Space Test Squadron

The 1st Air and Space Test Squadron successfully demonstrated the capability to offload solid rocket motors using mobile rental cranes 28 March, 2019, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 1st ASTS space maintenance technicians, along with Northrup Grumman members and their Space and Missile Systems Center counterparts at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., brought great credit to their field as they lifted a 138,000 pound inert Peacekeeper rocket motor safely onto a tractor trailer.

The successful transportation of the Peacekeeper was long awaited, after a month of issues with the existing overhead cranes at the 1st ASTS. The overhead 50 ton cranes are original to the facility and were installed in the 1980’s to support the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison program, which aimed to house 50 active Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on America’s railway network. A recent safety test highlighted concerns regarding the over 30-year-old cranes, threatening not only the Minotaur Program schedule, but the safety of the members operating them as well. Vandenberg personnel identified a mobile crane solution that ultimately met the mission’s needs and preserved the launch schedule while the overhead cranes received repairs. 

Looking forward, the team is prepared to support the arrival of the live motors and flight hardware. The boosters will be processed at Vandenberg AFB and shipped out to the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia later this year in support of the NRO L-129 launch campaign.

“Without the efforts of the members assigned to the 1st ASTS, 30th CONS, SMC Launch Enterprise Directorate and all of Team Vandenberg, this success would not have been possible,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Grimsley, 1st ASTS minotaur mission integrator. “These actions reflect the highest standard of service before self, and will ultimately provide new capabilities to warfighters across the globe.”