SpaceX breaks ground at Vandenberg
By Jennifer Green-Lanchoney, 30th Space Wing Public Affiars
/ Published July 25, 2011
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Members of Team Vandenberg gathered to witness the groundbreaking ceremony for Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) at Space Launch Complex-4 East here July 13.
The groundbreaking event begins efforts to retrofit SLC-4 East to accommodate the Falcon Heavy.
The Falcon Heavy, which is touted to be the most powerful vehicle in the world since the Saturn V moon rocket, is expected to have about four million pounds of thrust and the ability to carry payloads weighing more than 53 Metric tons according to SpaceX.
"As the SpaceX team embarks on its journey ... please know that you will be joining an incredible line of professionals who are eager to help you make this endeavor successful," said Col. Richard Boltz 30th Space Wing commander. "The many teammates that we have here are vital to supporting our nation's goal of assured access to space through both commercial and national security missions"
Prior to the Falcon Heavy mission, SLC-4 East was home to the Titan IV program. Vandenberg launched its last Titan IV in October 2005. That launch marked the end of the Titan program, which spanned five decades.
"Lompoc has had a very long relationship with the space industry and this is just the next chapter," said Lompoc Mayor John Linn. "We look forward to helping (SpaceX)."
Elon Musk, founder, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of SpaceX as well as California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, spoke at the event about the newest SpaceX mission coming to the West Coast.
SpaceX is a privately owned aerospace company based out of Hawthorn, Calif. The company launched their initial vehicle, Falcon 1, out of the Reagan Test Center on the Kwajalein Atoll July 2009. In 2010, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.