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Western Range set to resume normal operations

Members of the 576th Test Squadron oversee the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile, March 27, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Vandenberg’s Western Range, where space launch missions are conducted from California’s Central Coast, is set to commence normal operations after a relocation project that included renovation of existing base facilities, as well as consolidation of personnel, and equipment from the Launch and Test Range System. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

Members of the 576th Test Squadron oversee the launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile, March 27, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Vandenberg’s Western Range, where space launch missions are conducted from California’s Central Coast, is set to commence normal operations after a relocation project that included renovation of existing base facilities, as well as consolidation of personnel, and equipment from the Launch and Test Range System. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Western Range, where space launch missions are conducted from California’s Central Coast, is set to commence normal operations after a nearly six-month hiatus.

The reopening comes on the heels of a relocation project that included renovation of existing base facilities, as well as consolidation of personnel, and equipment from the Launch and Test Range System.

“The range downtime has provided us the opportunity to relocate the remaining three systems – the data center, telemetry system, and simulation center – from Building 7000 to Building 7025,” said Capt. Andrew Beckman, Space and Missile Systems Center range systems consolidation program manager. “Vacating Building 7000 has allowed the construction contractors to take over the entire building and start to construct the Joint Space Operations Center’s new home. Without the range downtime, the systems in Building 7000 would not have been able to move into Building 7025 in such a short amount of time.”

In hopes to achieve a synergistic battle system and command and control, the decision was made to consolidate 14th Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space headquarters with the 614th Air Operations Center and Joint Space Operations Center into one facility. Turning this proposal into a reality required an extensive amount of logistics and teamwork.

“Over 1,100 critical components of the operational range systems were completely disconnected at the beginning of the downtime,” said Mike Litscher, Range Generation Next Western Range manager. “Many of these systems are decades old and had not been powered down in years. These components were physically moved to another facility then methodically reconnected and tested in 150 new racks utilizing approximately 10,000 new cables with connectors that were custom built on-location for the new configuration. All significant issues were resolved in the process resulting in range systems that operate in an equivalent or enhanced manner than prior to downtime. This effort was performed by the Range Generation Next team performing under the Launch and Test Range System Integrated Support Contract. This monumental undertaking would not have been possible without the dedicated support and commitment of the LISC team of installers, operators, maintainers, engineers, logistics support personnel and project managers. We are pleased with the success of this project and proud to be a part of the 30th Space Wing’s mission to provide the nation with indispensable launch and range capabilities.”

With production of the project almost complete, one of the few remaining steps is to receive the greenlight from the 30th Operations Group.

“The range downtime will continue for another few weeks and the team will be performing data analysis and Operations Group Acceptance,” said Beckman. “The team plans to brief the 30th OG commander in the coming weeks on Operational Acceptance of the relocated systems.”

Thanks to a dedicated cast and a tireless effort, the Western Range hopes to be fully operational and mission capable in August.

“The success we have had during the downtime is due to every single person on the base helping out in whatever way they could,” said Beckman. “This project was a 100 percent team effort and the team is looking forward to showing the improved capabilities and continue to launch at Vandenberg.”