Mission Critical

By Robert Young

November 2015

While conducting a pre-launch test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, I was called over to speak with some Air Force personnel. Right after I called a 30-minute break in the test, they asked me if I would finish the test that day.

Then I asked them why they were so interested. In those days (early '60s) the only downlink antennas were on ships at sea -- a fact that I did not realize.

They told me that if we did not finish the test that day, the downlink ships would have to return to Hawaii to refuel -- causing many days to be lost. Needless to say, I got back in the trailer and announced over the loudspeaker that the "rest period" was over and we were picking up the count.