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     The Satellite Test Center, also known as the "Blue Cube", which started satellite control operations in Sunnyvale way back around 1958, was officially deactivated on March 7, 2007.  The USAF set up some special tours of the Blue Cube for people who had worked there at some time.  Unfortunately, we could not take or use cameras, since many of the displays were classified.  So, our only photos were taken outside  before and after the tour.
     I was handicapped with my vision problem, but three of my buddies from my days at Aerospace were there to give me much appreciated help and hospitality. Great Guys!!
Keith and Andy met me at the San Jose airport and then Andy rented a SUV and drove us to the Blue Cube. Keith started controlling satellites way back in the late 50's, and Andy worked on satellites and satellite control from 1965 to 1973.  I watched him on many occasions as he dealt with critical on orbit crisis. He was outstanding!
     Andy has this wonderful scooter that he brought  up from LA on the plane! He said that he just drove it down the gangway to the plane door, and then the ground crew just carried it down and put it in the cargo bay. He used his cane to walk to his seat. When we got to his rental SUV, he had the cart broken into 3 major chunks and in the trunk in about 2 minutes!
     Keith is one of very first satellite operations directors, being assigned as a USAF officer to the original temporary operations center, long before anything was built at the current site. A real pioneer!
     My thanks to Keith who took the next three photos and shared them.
Andy and me-- note the tree growing out of my head!
Keith and Me-- again!
Andy used that cane also to move around, but he really liked his scooter
    The inside tour was very well done- lots of the current staff worked long and hard to prepare it.  Our thanks to all of them for a great job well done.
     As we were departing the building I took a few photos. This two story building is what existed when I started in 1965, though the it has been given a face lift.  It housed operations and administration and support.
After a few years, it was clear that a new secure building for all operations was needed, and, after extensive studies, we prepared the Design Criteria for the Blue Cube, and oversaw the architectural design and building. The construction was completed around 1969. The original design did not call for the blue paint. That was a later decision by the commander.
Here is my great buddy Frank.  He played a major role not only in the design of the Blue Cube, but in the data systems that were later installed.  He lives nearby, and hosted me for the night.
Here I am with a tree growing out of my head!
The badge was a temporary ID for the tour.
They moved the tree, but cut off my feet!
This is a less obstructed view of the Blue Cube.  The attached parking structure was a later addition to the Blue Cube.
Frank is the president of the local model railroad club, and later that  evening Frank took me to see his layout at a local mall.  It was beautiful, and great fun to watch it operate.
These modern lay outs have much higher technology than when I was young!
 Thanks to Andy, Keith and Frank and Evie.
 Thanks to Andy, Keith and Frank and Evie.
 It was a great day, and wonderful to see my friends!

Creation date: Mar 22, 2007 9:24pm     Last modified date: Mar 28, 2007 8:18am   Last visit date: Oct 12, 2021 11:09am
1 / 1000 comments
Mar 26, 2007  ( 1 comment )  
Keith Smith (keithramsey)
Hi Tom,
It was a great day with you and Andy! Your pix cover the memory quite well.
I really think that you should tell everyone about the sad fate of the Blue Cube -- that it had been built expressly for the support of the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL). That while it looks like a much larger building, that it is really only four stories and that all the other space is taken up with the necessary air conditioning ducts and cable chases required to service all the computers, displays and communications. Finally, that in 1969 MOL was cancelled, but the Cube was used anyway for other programs.
Good luck and hope to see you again, soon! 
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