It began back in 1941 when it was known as Camp Cooke and served as a U.S. Army training facility for tanks and infantry troops. With the advent of the missile age in the 1950s, the land was transferred to the U.S Air Force for use as a missile training base. The first missile was launched from this facility in 1958 and since then almost 2,000 missiles and space boosters have followed suit.
Located on our state's central coast near the town of Lompoc, Vandenberg AFB is not only the U.S. Air Force's third largest installation, but an important part of our state's and nation's space history. In this episode of "California's Gold," host Huell Howser visits Vandenberg for a first-hand look at this huge base which covers over 98,000 acres and is literally filled with reminders and remnants of our space heritage.
Huell is taken on a tour that includes stops at sites of the first satellite launches from California, and an early Thor missile launch facility that is now listed as a National Historic Landmark because it is one of the best and most intact surviving examples of 1950s space technology. Huell also visits Altas missile sites, an underground Titan missile site and the Space and Missile Heritage Center filled with space and missile artifacts. The adventure ends with a look at some of the state-of-the-art facilities and hardware which today are making history and breaking new ground in the space field. Vandenberg AFB continues to be an important and, in fact, vital part of our space program and, as we discover on this visit, it is also a fine example of "California's Gold."