Distinguished visitors witness successful VAFB launch
By Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 03, 2014
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- VAFB successfully launched the 19th U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program payload on an Atlas V rocket here Thursday, April 3.
More than 200 members of the local community, media representatives and distinguished visitors were afforded the opportunity to view the launch within the installation.
"I think the tax payers deserve to know where their money is going," said Staff Sgt. Michael Darnton, 2nd Range Operations Squadron aerospace control officer. "This way, they get to see what we do here at the western range."
In addition to viewing-site access, some guests were also granted an inside look at the Western Range Operations Control Center.
"We had an opportunity to go into the control center and see what goes on behind the scenes," said Jim Bray, community leader and honorary commander. "It was incredible to see who actually makes this launch work. The biggest pleasure for me was seeing the men and women who make it all happen."
The launched DMSP satellite will operate in sun-synchronous orbit and will help weather forecasters predict regional and global weather patterns, including severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and typhoons.
"As an aerospace control officer, I'm in charge of safety for personnel in the launch area," said Darnton. "We can actually delay, or hold, a launch if someone's not where they're supposed to be. Actually watching it and feeling the rumble of the Atlas going up in the air is a really cool experience. So, I'm happy people get to come and see the result of all our hard work and preparation."
As well as bolstering relations with civilian partners, the days' events provided a chance to emphasize the importance of safety.
"I don't think the communities always understand the tremendous effort that goes into this, and also the tremendous effort placed on safety," said Bray. "A lot goes into ensuring the launch goes safely and the community is not at risk. I really appreciate having the opportunity to be out here with the servicemembers and be a part of this incredible launch."
Those involved, remained grateful and will not soon forget witnessing a successful polar-orbital launch at VAFB.
"It has always been a dream of mine to come and watch a launch," said Patti Westberg, president of the Santa Barbara Navy League. "It has been such a unique opportunity to see the men and women who make this all happen, and it's been a sheer pleasure to be here. I want to thank Vandenberg Air Force Base for providing this wonderful experience."