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Space Activity at Vandenberg to Be Cut Back

January 15, 1987|Associated Press

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — Activity at the space shuttle's $3.3-billion West Coast military launch site will be cut drastically to save money, bringing an as-yet-unannounced number of civilian layoffs, the Air Force said today.

The recently completed spaceport will be put on "minimum caretaker status" in October, said Capt. John Sullivan, spokesman for the Air Force Space Missile Test Organization.

That is a step down from the current "operational caretaker status," a reduction from normal readiness ordered after the shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff from Cape Canaveral last Jan. 28, killing all seven aboard.

Military shuttle missions were to have been launched from Vandenberg, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

"The next step down would be mothballing--it would be completely shut down," Sullivan said. Mothballing would mean cutting the civilian work force from 850 to 150, he said.

No Word on Layoffs

He said his office has not been told how many layoffs will be caused by the change to minimum caretaker status, ordered by the Air Force in a joint decision with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Downgrading the facility to operational caretaker status cut the civilian work force from 2,600 to the present 850. Those civilians who remain are Lockheed and Martin Marietta employees.

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