No damage to SpaceX or ULA launch pads after Vandenberg fire

Vandenberg Air Force Base fire
A fire burns a few miles from Space Launch Complex 3W, where an Atlas V rocket and WorldView-4 satellite were awaiting launch, at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sept. 19.
(Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Launch pads and ground equipment used by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and other private aerospace firms at Vandenberg Air Force Base were not damaged by the recent wildfire in the area, the companies and base officials said.

However, the base is currently assessing damage to electrical wiring that supports the launch range. Until that process is complete, the range will remain closed, Lt. Col. Alex Mignery, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander, said in a statement.

ULA, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., had been set to launch a commercial imaging satellite, WorldView-4, last month, but the launch was postponed as the Canyon fire on the south side of the base spread.

On Monday, commercial satellite imaging firm DigitalGlobe, which will operate the WorldView-4, said it was pointing to late October or early November for a potential new launch date.


In a statement to investors, the company said the satellite, which is perched atop an Atlas V rocket, is “safe and secure.”

The satellite and rocket were on the launch pad at ULA’s Space Launch Complex 3W during the fire and remain there, a ULA spokeswoman said. ULA also uses Space Launch Complexes 2 and 6 at Vandenberg.

SpaceX uses Space Launch Complex 4E.

A story on Vandenberg’s website last week said base personnel were inspecting more than 200 miles of copper and fiber cables that snaked throughout the burned areas. 


Mignery described the recovery efforts on the base as “moving along smoothly.”

The fire damaged more than 12,500 acres on the base and was the largest fire in base history, according to Vandenberg.

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