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30th CES paves the way for new range capabilities

30th CES paves the way for new range capabilities

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE -- When Vandenberg Air Force Base isn’t launching, the 30th Space Wing mission doesn’t stop, especially the mission of creating the range of the future.

The 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Dirtboys have been hard at work creating a truck bed-down pad used to bed-down trucks and trailers outfitted with nitrogen production equipment, to support the NROL-82 launch mission from a Delta IV Heavy at Space Launch Complex 6.

The team started construction of the new pad by SLC 6 on Aug. 5, 2020. The project was completed in 20 days, allowing the pad to be ready for the NROL-82 mission.

The multi-step process of completing the pad consisted of clearing the vegetation in the area, leveling the land, bringing in new materials, and pouring the concrete.

“The pad will be used for the bed-down of trucks and trailers outfitted with nitrogen production equipment, to supply gaseous nitrogen (GN2) for upcoming ULA Delta Heavy launches,” said Master Sgt. Ronald Weymer, 30th CES operations superintendent. “GN2 is an essential commodity for control systems and maintaining safe environments on the launch vehicle.”

The creation of the pad was critical to the mission, as the current nitrogen plant that would normally supply GN2 is undergoing upgrades, and would not be able to support the upcoming launches. To provide a solution and support the mission, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron and 30th Operations Group worked with the nitrogen provider to arrange the pad.

The construction of the pad increases the flexibility and reliability of range infrastructure by providing a contingency location for nitrogen support when the nitrogen plant is unavailable and eliminates a single point of failure.

According to Weymer, the bed-down area is a key component of this solution. Without it, they would not be able to stage equipment to include pumper trucks, 200,000 lb liquid storage trailers and any other heavy equipment needed to ensure launch success.

“Without the team of Dirtboys, the bed-down of the Airgas equipment would not be possible and the nitrogen would not be available to make this launch happen,” said Weymer.

Creating the range of the future is no easy task, but the 30th CES stands ready for the challenge.

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