Delta Mariner offloads launch components at Vandenberg
By Senior Airman Steve Bauer, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 07, 2011
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The United Launch Alliance Delta Mariner, which transported a Delta IV first stage, second stage and payload fairings for an anticipated 2012 launch, docked at the Vandenberg Boat Dock on South Base Oct. 28.
The Mariner departed Decatur, Ala., and traveled approximately 5,000 miles over a three week period to reach Vandenberg. The vessel, which transports Delta IV launch vehicle components, was built in 1999 by the efforts of the United Launch Alliance and the Boeing Company.
"The 4th Space Launch Squadron preparations began months in advance of the Delta IV launch vehicle actually arriving on base," said Capt. Ryan Laughton, the 4th SLS Delta Flight commander. "Our engineers and technicians had hundreds of processing procedures to review, pad qualification tests to monitor and mission assurance tasks to execute. The arrival of the Mariner is the culmination of thousands of hours of preparation."
The offload of the Delta IV launch vehicle from the Mariner and its transport to Space Launch Complex-6 required support from numerous units and agencies; both on and off base. For example, ULA executed the task of physically moving the launch vehicle to SLC-6 while the 4th SLS performed mission assurance and ensured the safety of base personnel and resource protection during the move.
"The 4th SLS engineers and technicians are integrated in with ULA's engineers and technicians, which helps to provide smooth task execution," Laughton said. "The offload and transport of the Delta IV launch vehicle from the Delta Mariner went extremely well. There were no reportable issues and all the pieces of the launch vehicle went immediately into the normal launch processing flow. The first stage and second stage will undergo several months of preparation work in the Horizontal Integration Facility before being put vertically onto the launch table next year. The payload fairing will undergo its own processing and will eventually encapsulate the payload in preparation for mating to the launch vehicle shortly before launch."
The Delta IV launch is anticipated to occur no earlier than March 2012.