[FPSPACE] Space: The Final [Archaeological] Frontier

DwayneDay zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 30 15:06:26 EDT 2004

-----Original Message-----
From: LARRY KLAES <ljk4 at msn.com>

>The November/December, 2004 issue of Archaeology magazine has a very interesting article
on space archaeology, which is online here:


>Before reading the article, can you guess when the first act of space archaeology was conducted?

Interesting article.  A few comments:

-the discussion of the bacteria on the Surveyor camera has been around for awhile.  But I believe that a few years ago someone wrote a paper alleging that the contamination may have happened after it was brought back to earth, rather than when it was being assembled before launch.  I think this was originally ruled out because they thought that their procedures were really good, but someone later found flaws with them that implied that the clean room examination performed on the returned equipment was not so clean.

-there was an article in JBIS in the past year about visiting landing sites on Mars.  I cannot remember the author, but he proposed that future human missions should consider visiting places like the Pathfinder and Viking sites.

-I did a bit of space archeology myself at Vandenberg Air Force Base back in 2000.  The base historical curator and I hopped into his beat-up pickup truck and spent a day driving around the base (ultimately putting 100 miles on the odometer) to see several locations.  We got to the old SLC-1 and SLC-2 pads (site of hundreds of Thor launches), SLC-10, SLC-6 and SLC-5, and down in one of the Titan II missile silos (I think it was 395C).  Unfortunately, we could not get _on_ to SLC-6 because it was a construction site.  And I wanted to prowl around the SLC-5 Scout site, but it was locked and we would have had to go retrieve the keys (it's just a collection of buildings).  We also got to the old boathouse and the barge facility for the shuttle ET.  I later published two articles on this in Spaceflight, with a title like "Space Archeology at Vandenberg."

By the way, while I was at Vandenberg another time, I think it was in 2001, I managed to interview several of the cultural and environmental resources people there.  One of the oldest village sites in North America is on the base, something like 10,000 years old.  And there are numerous Chumash Indian sites around the facility.  The local Chumash do not like the Air Force (or government) much because of the base.  But the reality is probably that without the Air Force being there, a lot of those sites would have been trampled under development by now.


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