The complete Vandenberg Space Force Base guide - We Are The Mighty
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The complete Vandenberg Space Force Base guide

PCSing to Vandenberg SFB but don’t know where to start? This intensive base guide will help answer all of your questions. For example, is this an Air Force installation or is it home to Space Force? Hint: It used to be Vandenberg AFB but these days it’s home to Space Force units! Space Force has had plenty of ups and downs over the last year, which is why Vandenberg’s rebranding is such a big deal. Plenty of important things happen here. In fact, VSFB is responsible for launching spacecraft and performing missile testing. Moreover, the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 30 is the host of the installation. In addition, Vandenberg also performs space launches for NASA and SpaceX, among others. 

No matter if you’re calling it Vandenberg AFB or SFB, you’re sure to have plenty of questions about the weather (it’s amazing!) and the housing (also great!) and even about the size of the base. Spoiler: it’s pretty huge! For now, settle in and learn all you can about your soon to be home. Our bet is you’re going to love it! 

Vandenberg Space Force Base Location

Vandenberg Space Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California, about 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles and approximately 9.2 miles northwest of Lompoc, California.

Space Tacticians Course at Vandenberg Space Force Base
Members of the Space Tacticians Course stand in front underneath a static display of a P-40 Warhawk aircraft after completion of their course at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, June 30, 2020. Hosted by Space Delta 5’s 55th Combat Training Squadron, the 8-day course consisted of 39 total personnel, 19 students and 20 instructors, from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, U.K. and U.S. with the intent of enhancing current global space operations through effective planning. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

Directions

You can reach VSFB using these routes:

Heading in from the cold? Take the 101 South to CA-1 S / CA-135 S, take CA-1 S towards VSFB

Driving from the south? Use Hwy 101 N to Hwy 246 W towards Lompoc, take Purisima Road to CA-1 N to the VSFB Santa Maria Gate

Making the trek from the east? Take CA-166 W to US-101 S to CA-1 S

Already in Sunny CA? Return to CA-1 S from Ocean, Take CA-1 S

Transportation

Flying to the closest airports: Santa Maria Airport, Santa Barbara Airport, Los Angeles International Airport

Santa Maria Airport (13.5 miles): served solely by Allegiant Airlines and one route – to and from Las Vegas, NV. 

Santa Barbara Airport (65.4 miles): served by 4 major airlines (Alaska, American, Southwest, and United) to and from 12 major destination hubs, including LAX. 

Los Angeles International Airport (156 miles): the closest international airport. 

Driving means you’ll have a car to easily access the beach. Of course, if you’re driving across the country, prepare for a long ride. 

Contacts at Vandenberg SFB

Chaplain (After Hours) Command Post: (805) 606‐9961

Chaplain (Duty Hours): (805) 606‐5773

Commissary: (805) 734-3354

DSN Operator: (312) 560-1110

Explosive Ordinance Disposal (Duty Hours): (805) 605-1374

Explosive Ordinance Disposal (Non-Duty Hours): (805) 606-9961

Healthwise Nurse: (888) 252‐3299

Housing Customer Service (Recording): (805) 606‐1840

Housing Office: (805) 606-3434

Information and Referral Services: (805) 606-0039

Legal Services/JAG: (805) 605-6200

Lompoc Unified School District (805)742-3300

Pharmacy Assistance: (805) 606‐7440

Relocation Assistance: (805) 606-0801

Temporary Lodging Facility: (805) 606-1844

Vandenberg Sexual Assault Response Coordinator: (805) 606-7272

Visitor’s Center: (805) 606-7662

Wellness Center: (805) 606‐2221

Rocket launch at Vandenberg Space Force Base
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket carrying a National Reconnaissance Office payload launches Aug. 28, 2013, from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. This was the second Delta IV-Heavy launch for Vandenberg AFB, with the first occurring Jan. 20, 2011. The rocket is the largest to ever launch from the West Coast of the United States. (USAF Photo)

Mission & Units 

The mission of Space Launch Delta 30 is to provide robust, relevant and efficient range and spaceport capabilities for the nation.

There are so many units at Vandenberg. These include the Space Operations Command, Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) / Space Delta 1, and the Office of Special Investigations – Detachment 804.

Moreover, several of the 30th tenant units call Vandenberg home. These include the 30th Comptroller Squadron (30 CPTS), the 30th Medical Group, the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, and the 30th Contracting Squadron. As if that weren’t enough, you can find plenty of other units on base. These include the 30th Force Support Squadron, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and the 30th Security Forces Squadron. 

Space Launch Delta 30 is headquartered at Vandenberg SFB. This unit manages DoD space and missile testing. Also, it places satellites into polar orbit from the West Coast using expendable boosters. Also, Wing personnel support Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force Development Evaluation programs.

As if that weren’t enough, VSFB is home to the Space and Missile Heritage Center. The mission of the SMHC is to preserve and display all things relating to the evolution of the missle. That means the SMHC houses amazing history, including the evolution of space-lift activities on the installation. Take a walk through and learn about Vandenberg SFB from the beginning of the Cold War through today.

Vandenberg Space Force History

Established initially as Camp Cooke in August 1941, this installation has seen it all. At its start, it was a training center for Army tank, infantry, and training during World War II. Plenty of service members trained here for the Korean War, too. After the Korean War ended, the Air Force took control of the installation. and the Korean War.

A Titan I missile emerges from its silo at Vandenberg's Operational System Test Facility in 1960
A Titan I missile emerges from its silo at Vandenberg’s Operational System Test Facility in 1960. The Titan I was stored and fueled in a hardened underground silo, but an elevator had to lift it out of the silo before it could be launched. The entire launch sequence took about 15 minutes. (USAF Photo)

They renamed it the Cooke AFB in June 1957.

A year later, the AF had another idea and the installation got another makeover. Welcome to the world, Vandenberg AFB!

Just another year after that, the world got space happy. So, the AF did what they do best and started innovating. In fact, the world’s first polar earth-orbiting satellite, the Discoverer 1, was launched from Complex-1. This launched used a two-stage Thor/Agena missile to get airborne. Imagine that kind of tech all the way back in 1959! 

Lots of other exciting things happened at Vandenberg. For example, did you know that the first GPS got its start at Vandenberg? It’s true! The GPS got its first push into space from the Space Launch Complex-3E in February 1978.

As if that weren’t exciting enough, there’s more! The world’s first commercial spaceport became operational at Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-8 in September 1996.

Vandenberg AFB was renamed Vandenberg Space Force Base in May 2021. Then, in September 2021, Vandenberg SFB launched LANDSAT 9 from Space Launch Complex-3E, which was VSFB’s 2,000th launch.

Atlas missiles on alert at Vandenberg Air Force Base, 1960
Atlas missiles on alert at Vandenberg Air Force Base – 1960. (USAF Photo)

Things to Do Around Vandenberg SFB

Hotels

Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc (8.7 miles)

Wine Stone Inn (12.5 miles)

Alamo Motel (17.4 miles)

Restaurants

Check out Taqueria La Mission for delicious Mexican food. Or, head on over to the Valle Eatery and Bar for typical American fare and rest easy knowing the meals are sourced from local ingredients. If you really want to support the community, book at table at La Botte Italian Restaurant. It’s – wait for it – Italian food is delicious and the eatery is family owned!

Activities

Beaches (Note that a portion of all beaches close to accommodate the nesting season of the Western Snowy Plover, an endangered bird species):

Beautiful Surf Beach is just 15.6 miles away and open to the public. Nearby is Wall Beach, clocking in at just 8 miles from base. Be advised! Wall Beach is open only to VSFB pass holders and sponsored guests. Finally, be sure to check out Minuteman Beach, about 14 miles from base. Like Wall Beach, this one is only for VSFB pass holders and guests.

The Space and Missile Heritage Center is located at Space Launch Complex-10. Equally important to note is that it’s open! But you’ll need to schedule an appointment to tour the facilities. Call the PAO office for more info. Of course, you’ll find exhibits like the “Chronology of the Cold War.” But you’ll also find a really neat exhibit about the evolution of tech. This exhibit includes interactive launch consoles. So be sure to bring the kids when you visit!

Historic La Purisima Mission State Historic Park (9.4 miles): Take a guided tour through some of the restored buildings at La Purisima Mission. Or, get out and enjoy some of the 25 miles of trails.

Specialist working at Vandenberg SFB
Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman

Vandenberg SFB Housing

Like most installations, Vandenberg offers different housing options, depending on you and your family’s needs. The Military Housing Office is your one-stop-shop for all housing-related questions. Call them as soon as you get orders to begin the housing search as early as possible. 

A gated community is available for Airmen families living on base. These properties are managed by Balfour Beatty Communities, a private military housing provider. Some homes are also available to retirees and DoD civilians, depending on the needs of the Air Force. The base features seven neighborhoods with two-, three-, and four-bedroom floor plans. All come with equipped kitchens. Of course, all neighborhoods are available to all ranks – officer and enlisted. However, some units within neighborhoods might only be available to certain ranks. 

Unaccompanied Housing (UH) is provided for single or unaccompanied Airmen ranked E-1 to E-3 and E-4s with less than three years of service. Unaccompanied E-4s with more than three years of service can gain housing in the local community. UH consists of nine buildings with 300 rooms each and one building of 72 rooms. Amenities include a gaming room, dayroom, and furnishings.

Schools Near Vandenberg Space Force Base 

Questions about schools near Vandenberg? Here’s all you need to know. The Lompoc Unified School District manages most of the schools in the area. The district offers schools for kids of all ages, so rest assured your mil-kid is covered. Private schools are also in the area, too. 

Chief Master Sgt. Heath Jennings, Space Launch Delta 30 Senior Enlisted Leader, poses for a photo in front of SLD 30 headquarters on Vandenberg Space Force Base
Chief Master Sgt. Heath Jennings, Space Launch Delta 30 Senior Enlisted Leader, poses for a photo in front of SLD 30 headquarters on Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., July 12, 2022. Chief Jennings’ position as the SEL is the first of its kind, where he will work alongside an Air Force Chief Master Sgt., Chief Mosley, as the highest ranked enlisted personnel on the installation. (U.S. Space Force photo by Ryan Quijas)

Frequently Asked Questions

How far is Vandenberg SFB from San Diego?

Vandenberg SFB is 282 miles from San Diego, CA (302 if you drive through Los Angeles instead of along the coast). It is approximately a 5-hour drive. The Santa Barbara Airport (65.4 miles) offers flights to San Diego.

How far is Vandenberg SFB from Santa Barbara?

Expect about a 64 mile distance from VSFB to Santa Barbara. Furthermore, it’s about a 70-minute drive. That is, if you’re following the speed limits.

What county is Vandenberg SFB in?

VSFB is located in Santa Barbara County in California. The largest city in the county is Santa Maria, just 19.4 miles from the installation

Is Vandenberg SFB open to the public?

Like most military installations, VSFB is open to the public. Guests wishing to take a tour must send identification information for each member of your party to the SLD 30 Community Engagement department at least 15 days in advance of the tour. Call (805) 606-3595 for more information.

(*Note: Vandenberg is currently closed to all tours due to local and on-base COVID-19 restrictions.)

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