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Popular Mechanics cover article June 1997

Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 09:47:00 -0400
Subject: Popular Mechanics cover article June 1997

The cover article of June 1997 Popular Mechanics is "The new 'Area 51".

The article was written by Jim Wilson, Science/Technology editor for the
magazine.  He claims to have visited the border of Area 51 recently and
encountered only a locked gated with a rusty lock and no one or nothing in
sight.  This contrasted sharply with the time that a PM correspondent, Abe
Dane, was guided to the border by Glenn Campbell.

The article's theory is that the Air Force has abandoned the top-secret
testing site in favor of the Utah Launch Complex of the White Sands Missile
Range.  This complex is located south of Utah Route 70 and east of the
Green River - beneath unlimited-ceiling restricted airspace designated as
R-6413.  This complex is supposed to be the launch site of the X-33 type of
"pop-up" satellite and weapon launcher that the military wants to use as
one of the next generation of weapon systems.  NASA and the Air Force have
signed an agreement to share "redundant assets".  This direct descendant of
the Mach 15, 50 mile altitude, Have Region code-named aircraft is a
lifting-body shaped vehicle capable of carrying and launching a 6 to 10
thousand pound payload.

The landing site for this vechicle is reported to be Michael AAF.  Both of
these bases are part of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) and its Space
Warefare Center (SWC).  Falon Air Force Base just became the the home for
the SWC's 576th Flight Test Squadron, reports PM.  Where Groom Lake had the
NTS to control access, Michael Army Air Field is in the midst of Dugway
proving Ground, the place where the Army stores and tests nerve gas and
chemical weapons.

The article closes with the report that Air Force CT-43 transports, which
previously flew workers to Area 51, have begun making flights to Utah.
Also noted is that not far from the the "new Area 51" is the 480-acre
Sherman ranch that millionaire Robert M. Bigelow purchased for his National
Institute for Discovery Science.

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