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Vandenberg Space Force Base Prepares to Celebrate its Historical 2000th Launch

collage of rocket launches from Vandenberg

Vandenberg Space Force Base has been facilitating range capabilities for its launch and test partners since 1958. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Fiona Kilfoyle and Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo)

A Rocket

Vandenberg Air Force Base (at the time) launches the PGM- 17A Thor Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile from Space Launch Complex-2 East on Dec. 16, 1958. (Courtesy Photo by the Air Force)

Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA --

Vandenberg Space Force Base will celebrate its 2000th launch when NASA Launch Services Program sends a Landsat-9 Earth observation satellite, mated to an Atlas V 401 rocket into orbit on Sept. 27, 2021.

“The 2000th launch gives us the opportunity to celebrate the thousands of people from Team Vandenberg, past and present, who share a proud heritage beginning with the first launch in 1958 through this 2000th launch. Space—and launch—is hard.  Our record of success is a testament to longstanding mission excellence,” said Col. Robert Long, Space Launch Delta 30 commander.

Vandenberg launched its first missile on Dec. 16, 1958. The PGM-17A Thor Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile was launched from Space Launch Complex-2 East. Soon after, the first SM-65 Atlas missile launched on Sept. 9, 1959 at launch facility 576 A-2.

“Vandenberg Space Force Base has had 56 launch facilities all together supporting customers between government entities and commercial launch providers,” said Dr. Scott Bailey, Space Launch Delta 30 historian.

Since 1958, the previous 1,999 launches Vandenberg facilitated include missile and space programs such as the Atlas, Thor, Delta IV, SpaceX, Minuteman, and Falcon 9 among many, many others.

Space Launch Delta 30’s objective with every mission, is to provide indispensable launch, landing, and range capabilities to the nation.

All personnel assigned to SLD 30 launch missions, provide safe launch and range capabilities as the only military installation on the west coast of the continental United States. This is to support commercial and government customers.

When it comes to safety for this historical launch and every launch, Col. Kris Barcomb, SLD 30 vice commander said, “We provide public safety with every launch. That’s fire support, security forces support, road blocks, fire suppression, acquisition and contract support.”

It takes an entire collaborate joint force of Airmen and Guardians to oversee every launch at Vandenberg and Col. Long understands the importance of team Vandenberg.

“It is the entire team today and across six decades that we celebrate as we achieve this milestone.  What’s more, we’re crossing this monumental threshold with two great mission partners, NASA and United Launch Alliance,” said Long.

With technology evolving and moving beyond the skies, let us not forget where it all began and celebrate Vandenberg’s 2000th launch.

“Everybody has a GPS and earth imaging apps on their phones for directions. All of that began with a rocket launch that was set into orbit at Vandenberg,” said Bailey.