Re: Western US heads up - Vandenberg launch Saturday

From: Jake Rees (jrburca@netzero.net)
Date: Sat Jul 14 2001 - 02:47:26 PDT

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    It might be helpful to emphasize for those in position to see it, that this
    launch has the potential to put on a spectacular sky display.  If it goes
    near sunset or after sunset, there will be the twilight effect with
    backlighting of the exhaust plume.  Going by previous launches of this type,
    the launch trajectory is steep and the missile goes up to 900 (?) miles into
    space before starting back down into the atmosphere.  This, of course, means
    a higher above the horizon display compared to say a Delta II orbital launch
    from Vandenberg.  Due to these factors, in the past, viewers, not only in
    California, but as far away as Arizona, Nevada, northwestern Mexico, even
    Utah have been able to see this type of launch.  If it launches late, say
    closer to 10 PM PDT compared to say 8:30 PM, then the potential for a great
    display is less since the sun is much farther below the horizon and the
    missile might not hit sunlight until the final stage or perhaps not at all
    at say 9:59 PM.  I'm sure Rob Matson or Randy John or other experts on this
    list could work that out if they're so inclined.
    
    Don't bother looking at the official Vandenberg AFB web site for info as
    they don't mention it at all, I presume because it is a classified mission.
    Their launch schedule is entitled "VAFB Unclassified Launch Schedule".   But
    if you want to look anyway:
    
    http://mocc.vafb.af.mil/launchsched.asp
    
     Here is a URL for an unofficial site (SoCal Sky Lights) with some more
    info:
    
     http://schnapp.org/sky/sky_vandenberg.html
    
    -- Jake Rees
        Burbank, California
    
    
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