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Space & Missile Times ceases production after nearly 50 years

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- After nearly 50 years and four name changes, the Vandenberg Air Force Base newspaper has hit the presses for the last time. As of Oct. 27, news from the Space & Missile Times is strictly online.

Publication of Strategic Air Command's SAC Missileer began in July 1958 and was well underway when it announced the base's name change to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Oct. 4, 1958. From the first launch Dec. 16, 1958, to the 1,867th launch Sept. 1, 2006, the base newspaper has chronicled the lives and events of Vandenberg AFB.

But as times change and technologies improve, the news launch platform must continually change along with them.

"As the Air Force implements Smart Operations 21, it's clear that innovation is the only way to optimize our people and resources," said 1st Lt. Angela Webb, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs deputy chief. "We need to look at the ways we reach our core audience, our Airmen and their families, and use the best tools at our disposal to connect with them."

In a world where young lieutenants can send 10 text messages a minute and download the latest podcasts directly to their cell phones, production of a weekly, hardcopy newspaper may have outlived its usefulness. In response, public affairs officials across the Air Force are looking at new and improved ways to reach people, not only those in the service but those who love them as well.

"Regularly scheduled updates hit grassroots America's TVs, radios, newspapers, blogs, etc., and keep America plugged in - caring - about their very own Airman," said Senior Master Sgt. Tyler Foster, Air Force Space Command Public Affairs.

Vandenberg's five-person public affairs staff needs to be able to tell its Airmen's stories as they happen and they need to be able to reach those Airmen's friends and families here on the Central Coast, back home in Louisiana and deployed in Iraq all at the same time.

As Vandenberg's news transitions from paper to Internet, those stories will still be told. Here at Vandenberg, they'll be posted on the base Web site at www.vandenberg.af.mil. For now, those with Vandenberg e-mail accounts will receive regular messages with news updates and story links. Those messages can be easily forwarded to family and friend's home e-mail accounts. From there, the staff will adjust those stories for use in a variety of other mediums as well.

Just as Vandenberg moved from the Thor rocket to the Delta IV to provide 100 percent assured access to space, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs continues get the story out; the Internet is just the newest launch vehicle.