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Our view: Vandenberg plays key role in keeping America safe

By and   /   Friday, June 2nd, 2017  /   Comments Off on Our view: Vandenberg plays key role in keeping America safe

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An apparently successful test of an anti-missile system over the Pacific Ocean on May 30 reminds us of the diverse role that Vandenberg Air Force Base plays in the space race.

Vandenberg’s capacity for lofting commercial and military satellites into orbit has made it — along with Cape Canaveral — a favored spot for government-funded and private launches by traditional players and upstarts, including Elon Musk’s Space X venture. That is the main reason why Vandenberg remains one of the largest employers in the region.

But the launch of an interceptor missile that successfully downed an intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a Pacific atoll underscores Vandenberg’s military role. The $244 million test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system marked a milestone for a program that’s had its share of controversy. Launched from an underground silo, the missile is part of an activity that’s largely hidden from public view.

By some estimates the anti-missile program, aka “Star Wars,” has consumed more than $300 billion in taxpayer funding since it was started by the Reagan administration in the 1980s.

Vandenberg’s interceptors are part of a two-location system that also includes an installation in Alaska and the latest test certainly helps the Trump administration send a message to North Korea that the U.S. has the capacity to thwart an attack on American soil.

There is also a subtler message in the GMD’s apparent success. As the Business Times has reported, many of the super-fast computer chips that drive the program’s sensors have been designed by scientists and engineers at Raytheon, Teledyne and other contractors in the region. Naval Base Ventura County’s weapons testing and research facilities also play a role.

For all the talk about California going it alone in the Trump era, our nation’s ability to command the high ground in surveillance and space defense depends heavily on the people and facilities right here on the Central Coast.

CONGRATULATIONS TO CALIFORNIA LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY

California Lutheran University has taken home its first NCAA Division III national championship in baseball and its second NCAA championship in recent years.

CLU’s baseball program staged a dramatic comeback in a three-game series that ended May 30 with a  7-2 win over Washington & Jefferson at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisc.

The Kingsmen had been runners up twice in Division III baseball in the 1990s and they won in 2017 with a philosophy of winning the inches.

Kudos to coach Marty Slimak and CLU President Chris Kimball, one of the university’s biggest social media boosters.

This is the second national championship of the Kimball era. In 2015, the women’s volleyball team won the NCAA championship, the Thousand Oaks-based university’s first national title in the NCAA era.

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