Tribal Curse Haunts Launch Pad
Can a launch pad be cursed? Engineers laugh -- but nervously.
An Air Force launch site called SLC-6 (pronounced "Slick-6") at Vandenberg Air Force Base has become legendary in aerospace circles for an eerie history of failed programs and botched launches.
Now on Tuesday, the Boeing Corporation will tempt fate and try to launch a new spy satellite from the unlucky site -- 40 years after the Air Force built the pad over an Indian burial ground in a rocky stretch of California desert.
"I wish them good luck and hope they have a good launch," says retired NASA astronaut Robert Crippen, who is well acquainted with the legend. "If I've got one disappointment in my career, it was I never had the chance to fly out of SLC-6."
Construction on Space Launch Complex 6 began on March 12, 1966. The site was originally intended for the Titan III launch vehicle, and was to be part of the Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory, or MOL, program -- a plan to put military astronauts in orbit to keep an eye on the Soviet Union.
According to space historian Robert Ash, construction workers building the pad unearthed human remains from an ancient Chumash Indian burial ground. Members of the tribe asked the Air Force to study the area and move the remains to another location, but the military brass ignored the request and continued construction.
Naturally this angered the Chumash tribe, and, according to local legends, a tribe leader put a curse on the site.
Hey, BlogDog... wanna know how to get rid of those tomato hornworms?