Emblem - Significance
The prominent Gold border represents Space Systems Command, the organization that Headquarters Space Launch Delta 30 is assigned. Midnight Blue and Victory Medal Blue combine to represent the vast recesses of outer space, an expression of the possibilities. The star Polaris represents the core values that guide the execution of the mission. The two launch vehicles emanating from the globe represent the Launch and Test mission. The Brick red, White, and Victory Medal blue elements are used to incorporate the national colors of the United States.
Space Launch Delta 30
Space Launch Delta 30 provides host installation services for Vandenberg Space Force Base (SFB). Personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30 at Vandenberg SFB manage Department of Defense space and missile testing, range operations, and provides the installation infrastructure necessary to place satellites into polar orbit using both expendable and reusable space lift boosters. Personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30 support Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force Development Evaluation programs. Additionally, Space Launch Delta 30 provides safe launch and range capabilities as the only military installation on the West Coast of the continental United States to fulfill commercial and government customer requirements.
The History and Heritage of Vandenberg Space Force Base
and Space Launch Delta 30
Vandenberg Space Force Base (SFB) contains 99,604 acres of land, operates approximately 16 launch facilities and complexes, and maintains the second largest airfield runway in the Department of Defense, which is 15,000 feet long. The installation provides a safe location for the testing of new and existing Department of Defense sanctioned programs, government and commercial launch and range services, as well as offers future space lift and land based mission capabilities in support of the National Defense Strategy. Vandenberg was originally established as the Camp Cooke U.S. Army garrison in August of 1941. The installation was used for Army tank, infantry, and artillery training during World War II, and again during the Korean War. In 1957, the installation property was transferred to the recently established U.S. Air Force and was soon transformed into the nation’s West Coast space and missile facility that is now Vandenberg SFB. The unique geographic location of Vandenberg makes this major range and test facility base a safe and ideal setting to test land based strategic deterrent assets, and to safely place satellite payloads into polar earth orbit.
The requirement for the United States to construct a launch facility on the West coast derived from the need to match and overcome Russia’s space launch capabilities during the Cold War. Russia launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik into low earth orbit on 4 October 1957, which started the “Space Race” between the United States and Russia. In response to the Sputnik launch, the United States Air Force accelerated the development of the space and missile program that was in its infancy. On 1 January 1958, Strategic Air Command (SAC) assumed responsibility for attaining the initial operational capability of the U.S. land based strategic deterrent missile force, as well as conducting training for missile launch crews. Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) retained responsibility for the Vandenberg launch facility construction, as well as concurrently conduct research and development of launch vehicles.
Vandenberg SFB Highlights
On 7 June 1957, Camp Cooke was renamed Cooke AFB. On 4 October 1958, Cooke AFB was redesignated as Vandenberg AFB in honor of the late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the second Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. The first missile launch from Vandenberg AFB was a Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile launched on 16 December 1958 from Space Launch Complex-2 East. On 28 February 1959, the first two-stage Thor/Agena missile lifted the world’s first polar earth orbiting satellite, the Discoverer 1 from Space Launch Complex-1 West. Soon after, the first Atlas missile launched from Vandenberg AFB on 9 September 1959 at launch facility 576 A-2. The first Global Positioning Satellite launched from Space Launch Complex-3E on 22 February 1978. The world’s first commercial spaceport became operational at Vandenberg on 19 September 1996 at Space Launch Complex-8. On 14 May 2021, Vandenberg Air Force Base was renamed to Vandenberg Space Force Base. Four months later, LANDSAT 9 launched on 27 September 2021 from Space Launch Complex 3E, making it the 2,000th launch from Vandenberg. Significant launch programs that have occurred from Vandenberg since 1958 include the Nike, Scout, Peacekeeper, Atlas, Minotaur, Titan, Thor, Thor/Agena, Thrust Augmented Thor, Thor/Delta, BOMARC, Delta II, Delta IV, Minuteman, Pegasus, Scout, and Falcon 9.
Lineage of Space Launch Delta 30
The Space Launch Delta 30 unit lineage and honors derive from its predecessor units; the 30th Space Wing, the Western Space and Missile Center (WSMC) (wing equivalent) and the Air Force Western Test Range (AFWTR) (wing equivalent). On 5 May 1964, the AFWTR activated at Vandenberg AFB. After the U.S. Navy transferred their 20,000 acre Point Arguello Launch Complex located on present day South Vandenberg SFB, a network of instrumentation sites were constructed along the California Coast and downrange on islands throughout the Pacific to support the ballistic, space and aeronautical operations conducted by AFWTR. A further 14,900 acres were acquired by the Air Force in 1966 with the transfer of the Sudden Ranch land area on South Vandenberg that was necessary to support future launch activity and safe launch and range activities.
The AFWTR inactivated on 1 April 1970 and the unit later redesignated at Vandenberg as the Western Space and Missile Center (WSMC) (wing equivalent) on 1 October 1979. WSMC fulfilled major national programs during its tenure that continues to provide many of the infrastructure and Western range architecture capabilities that the 30th Space Wing and Space Launch Delta 30 utilized. Major programs constructed and operated during the WSMC operational existence at Vandenberg include the Air Force Space Shuttle Program and the Peacekeeper ballistic missile development program. WSMC later reorganized to become the 30th Space Wing on 19 November 1991. With the establishment of the United States Space Force in 2019, and after various organizational restructuring, the 30th Space Wing was redesignated as Space Launch Delta 30 on 14 May 2021. Space Launch Delta 30 transitioned from Space Operations Command as the parent headquarters since 20 December 2019, to Space Systems Command, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base on 13 August 2021.
14th Air Force at Vandenberg AFB
In the late 1930s, Major General Claire L. Chennault organized a group of civilian volunteer pilots to fight imperial Japanese forces in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations during World War II. The Flying Tigers became well known for the paintings of the tiger shark on the nose of their P-40 fighter pursuit aircraft and compiled a stellar war record against a numerically superior aggressor force. The unit went through numerous reorganizations after the war and in 1993, the Fourteenth Air Force was restructured to operate as a space domain mission function headquartered at Vandenberg AFB. The Fourteenth Air Force operated as a subordinate space operations Numbered Air Force at Vandenberg, and supported Air Force Space Command, as well as the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, in support of space mission functions.
United States Space Force
On 20 December 2019, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, signed into law the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to establish the sixth uniformed military branch of the Department of Defense. All mission sets and personnel assigned to the previous Air Force Space Command were reassigned to the United States Space Force. With the establishment of the Space Force, the Fourteenth Air Force and Air Force Space Command marked the end of their Air Force lineage, and all missions and personnel were reassigned into the newly designated Space Operations Command (SpOC).
The Space Force organizational structure is streamlined to support rapid commander taskings. The Numbered Air Force and Group echelons of command previously found in the Air Force organizational structure are removed in the Space Force, and the former 30th Operations Group, and 30th Mission Support Group ended their lineage with the establishment of Space Launch Delta 30 on 14 May 2021. On 13 August 2021, Space Systems Command reorganized to become a field command with the United States Space Force to manage launch and range operations at the Eastern and Western ranges. Space Operations Command relinquished parent headquarters authority over Space Launch Delta 30 and the Delta became assigned to the newly established Space Systems Command.
Since 1964, the host installation, range, and launch missions at Vandenberg SFB have been supported by personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30, and its predecessor units. Space Launch Delta 30 manages all launch and range missions on the Western range that are conducted from Vandenberg, including launch activities for the Space Force, Air Force, Department of Defense, NASA, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Firefly Aerospace, and other commercial space partner organizations. The launch and range capabilities sustained by personnel and equipment assigned to Space Launch Delta 30 provide the range management architecture and installation services infrastructure that are necessary for the safe placement of satellites into polar earth orbit, while concurrently retaining the ability to confidence test America’s land based strategic deterrent systems.