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Vandenberg Missile Questions

From: (Glenn Campbell, Las Vegas)
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 19:29:21 -0800
Subject: Vandenberg Missile Questions

[From an AMSAT (Amateur Satellite) mailing list...]

Sometime in the last week, someone posted a notice regarding a pending
launch from Vandenberg AFB.  Apparently, the launch took place at sometime
after 1700 PST.  We picked up the launch quite accidentally while in route
to the Anaheim HRO.

Southern California is currently under the influence of moderate off shore
winds from a high to our north so visibility is near infinite with low
levels of atmospheric moisture.

This raised several questions I would like to post:

What was the official launch time from VAFB?

Did we in fact see a stage separation and ignition?

If so, how long into the flight was this?

Why did the light from last stage disappear so quickly?  Was this the point
at which the vehicle left the atmosphere and so lost contact with gases and
water vapor which could then reflect light after reacting with the
combustion products from the engine or did this stage have only a short

Lastly, for the meteorologically inclined:  When the vehicle was actively
moving through the atmosphere, the combustion trail (vapor trail?) left
behind was rather straight.  Within thirty minutes or so, viewing the trail
as it reflected the rays of the fast setting sun, the trail acquired a
variety of loops and twists such that it appeared as though the vehicle
that made it had done spirals in the sky, what is it about the winds and
the trail last causes this (a 'typical' vapor trail just dissi

Thanks in advance for all assistance.

Ralph G. Sbragia
Construction Safety Professional
direct Email to: KD6FYT@AMSAT.ORG
or (home)
or (work, 0730-1700 PT only)

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