California Has Stake in Shuttle Success

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, July 15, 2005

Republican state Senator Abel Maldonado represents part of the central California coast near the U.S.’s west coast spaceport at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Maldonado says before the shuttle Challenger blew up 19 years ago, the plan was to launch shuttles north into polar orbit from Vandenberg.  "I have a pad there called Slick Six which we spent billions of dollars to put up to par, and when we had the 1986 disaster, they shut it down.  We have a 25 thousand foot runway there at Vandenberg Air force base that’s designed for the shuttle.  When we had the 1986 disaster, they stopped using that."
  Maldonado says the resumption of shuttle flights after the Columbia disaster two and a half years ago will bring some new business to the Santa Barbara county communities near Vandenberg.  The spaceport there is regularly used now for unmanned military test launches and for commercial satellites that need a polar orbit.