Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Next Space Port

Astro tickled a bone of mine in a recent post about New Mexico and decent places to live there. Got me to thinking about one of my old stomping grounds, the White Sands Missile Range.

I worked at a place called Stallion Site, up near the 90-mile area, where aircraft from various bases would come and drop bombs, shoot rockets, and do other neat stuff.

My primary job responsibility was keeping two obsolete radars working, an SPS-30 air search and a antiquated FPS-6 height finder in good operating order, and when they were running, go man the scopes and operate them.

Surprising that I can still remember those radar designators.

That's me messing around on the FPS-6 antenna. Actually we were on the way to replace the feed horn plexiglass window which had started leaking air from the pressurized waveguide. The thing in the upper right that looks kinda like a highway traffic cone is the feed horn. And yes, I had on a safely belt and a tool pouch, you just can't see them in the photo.

Straying a bit off the point here... But I think WSMR has a lot going for it for us to launch our next series of vehicles. Our spacecraft are now reliable enough to be launched over populated sections of the continent, something we definitely did not want to do when the vehicles had a tendency to blow up at any time.

That extra mile of free elevation weighs heavily in favor for WSMR, particularly when cost has become such a huge factor.

But cooler heads will have to make decisions like that, because another factor that entered into the consideration of where to launch our spacecraft from was: Most of those fancy pants scientists and the like didn't like the isolation of the WSMR sites, or the rather primitive little towns that surrounded it that they would have to live in, where those odd natives sutbbornly clung to their green chile and beer.



texlahoma said...

I've been to White Sands. I lived in Gallup, New Mexico for a while when I was a kid.
When our family moved from a small town in Texas to Gallup, I was amazed at how many bars there were and how many drunk people there were on the streets.

Bob said...

Gallup is between the Navajo and the Zuni indian reservations on a narrow stretch of non-indian land that quickly bumps into the Hopi Indian reservation a bit west.

The Navajo, the Zuni and the Hopi do not allow liquor stores and bars on their land.

So... What you got in Gallup is a LOT of bars and a lot of drunk indians wandering around in the streets. Gallup is the closest off-the-reservation place around to go get boozed up.

But you already know that... you lived there.