Vandenberg Space Force Base Guide
Vandenberg Space Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California. Formerly Vandenberg Air Force Base, the mission here may sound quite unique compared to other bases. Named for the late General Hoyt Vandenberg, the mission here is to “provide robust, relevant, and efficient range and spaceport capabilities” for the United States.
Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
- Surrounding Area
- Child Care
- Vehicle Policies
- PCS & TDY Lodging
- Colleges & Universities
Long before it was redesignated as a Space Force base, this area was known as Camp Cooke in 1941 and later as Vandenberg Air Force Base. Camp Cooke began operations in October of 1941. The camp wasn’t even fully constructed before the 5th Armored Division arrived there to train and deploy for World War Two.
Camp Cooke’s role in the war included serving as a POW camp as well as a military disciplinary facility for Americans who were sentenced by a military court to do time in a correctional environment. Camp Cooke wasn’t meant to last, apparently.
It closed shortly after the war in 1946. Just a few years later, the Korean War began and the camp reopened to serve yet again as a training facility. It ran between 1950 and 1953, and by 1956 parts of the installation were being placed under Air Force control. Cooke Air Force Base would be officially recognized in 1957.
That same year, the Department of Defense authorized the base as a launch site for ICBMs. Missile crews began training at Cooke AFB, the Cold War began ramping up, and in 1958 Cooke AFB was redesignated Vandenberg AFB, named after the service’s second Chief Of Staff.
In the 1970s, Vandenberg AFB began supporting NASA space shuttle operations as an alternative landing site. It was never needed, but as a fallback the site was a valuable part of the space program. In the 1990s, Vandenberg was put under Air Force Space Command. That would turn out to be an indicator of things to come.
On 20 December 2019, the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act was passed; in part, it established the sixth uniformed military branch of the Department of Defense, the United States Space Force.
As the Vandenberg Space Force official site notes, “All mission sets and personnel assigned to the previous Air Force Space Command were reassigned to the United States Space Force” including Vandenberg. Today, the base operates under the jurisdiction of Space Operations Command.
Vandenberg SFB is located on California’s central coast in Santa Barbara county, some nine miles away from Lompoc. There is plenty of wilderness in the area including San Rafael Wilderness and Los Padres National Forest. The small town known as Vandenberg Village is a five-minute drive from Vandenberg SFBis a small town roughly five miles from the base.
Nearby Lompoc has plenty to offer in terms of sand and surf. You can visit Ocean Beach Park, Beattie Park, and Riverbend Park; all feature family-friendly fun in the sun.
Lompoc is a destination for those who love wine and golf; there are two facilities to choose from here; The Mission Club or La Purisima Golf Course, and you can also visit nearby Montemar Winery, or Transcendence Winery after hitting the links.
Newcomers will be tempted to make the one-hour drive to Santa Barbara for its art studios, culture, whale watching, and shopping options. Paseo Nuevo and State Street Shopping are both retail destination sites you won’t want to miss.
Vandenberg Space Force Base is the home of Space Launch Delta 30, which is responsible for managing Department of Defense space and missile testing, and satellites, plus providing support for the Minuteman III program. Important Vandenberg Space Force Base units and missions include, but may not be limited to:
- Combined Force Space Component Command
- Space Operations Command
- Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) / Space Delta 5
- Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) / Space Delta 1
- 576th Flight Test Squadron
- 21st Space Operations Squadron
- Office of Special Investigations Detachment 804
- 30th Comptroller Squadron (30 CPTS)
- 30th Civil Engineer Squadron (30 CES)
- 30th Contracting Squadron (30 CONS)
- 30th Force Support Squadron (30 FSS)
- 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron (30 LRS)
- 30th Security Forces Squadron (30 SFS)
- 30th Operations Support Squadron (30 OSS)
- 30th Space Communications Squadron (30 SCS)
- 2nd Range Operations Squadron (2 ROPS)
- 2nd Space Launch Squadron (2 SLS)
- Emergency Management
- History Office
- Inspector General
- Public Affairs Office
- Small Business Office
- Space & Missile Heritage Museum
- Staff Judge Advocate
If you are PCSing to Vandeberg, report to your unit commander section. You should be given unit information by your sponsor before you arrive, and once you have checked in with your gaining unit you can request up to eight days of permissive TDY for house hunting. If you arrive during normal duty hours, you can check in same day, but if you arrive in the area after normal duty hours, check in the following day.
Child care options at Vandenberg are offered via the Child Development Center, providing care for children ages six weeks to five years old. Options include weekly, full time and part-time day pre-school, hourly and special needs care.
Family Child Care is also available here. This is child care offered in private homes on base or in military housing. This care is offered by those who have been certified; these are inspected on-base child care providers who must meet DoD requirements in order to participate in the program. To arrange CDC care, get on waiting lists, or learn where you are on a child care waiting list, call 805-606-1555. To sign up for FCC services, call 805-606-4639.
Vandenberg Space Force Base housing is privatized and operated by Balfour Beatty Communities. Contact the housing office as soon as you have PCS orders to learn about waiting lists and other issues. You should make an appointment with the housing office before entering ANY legally binding agreement for housing. California is a state with a high cost of living and you will want to know your options ahead of time to budget and prepare for this assignment.
Single and unaccompanied service members between the ranks of E-1 to E-4 may be offered on-base housing. Those who are single and above the pay grade of E4 will be required to live in the local community.
Those who need temporary lodging at Vandenberg Space Force Base should call for reservations as soon as orders are available–high demand means temporary lodging may be limited or unavailable on base.
Call 805-606-1844 to make a reservation but know if the system is full you will be offered a Certificate of Non-Availability, which authorizes you to stay off base at the government’s expense. If you are traveling on PCS orders you may be permitted to book farther in advance.
When arriving in the local area, the usual ride-sharing and commercially available transportation is available at area airports. But in this part of the state, it’s critical to discuss your arrival with your sponsor. Local traffic issues may complicate your arrival if you don’t anticipate them. The nearest airport to the base is Santa Maria Public Airport, roughly 18 miles away. Taxi service to the main gate is possible depending on time of day, demand, and other variables.
State residents must carry a California driver’s license. Non-resident active duty members must carry either a current California driver’s license or a valid driver’s license issued by the service member’s state of residence.
All privately owned vehicles (POVs) on Vandenberg AFB must be in compliance with California state law regarding insurance, emissions, and registration.
While you are not required to carry base decals on your vehicle, you will be subject to 100% ID checks at any time. Motorcycle operators are required to pass safety training courses to operate any two-wheeled vehicle on Vandenberg SFB.
For military families living on-base, school-age children may be eligible to attend the Lompoc Unified School District which includes one on-base elementary school (main base) and a middle school and a charter school (in the East Housing Area). High school for on-base students is located in Vandenberg Village.
Military families who live off-base should expect their children to attend school based on zip code. California state law requires children to be five years old before December 2 of the school year in order to enroll in kindergarten, and there are required immunizations which include but may not be limited to Polio, MMR, DTP, Hep B, and Varicella.
Get assistance with school choice issues–call the Vandenberg SFB School Liaison Officer at 805-606-0039.
The Vandenberg Base Education Center offers on-base college programs, advice, and information. At press time, the following institutions are represented at the Education Center
- Allan Hancock College
- University of La Verne
Representatives from both institutions have regular office hours and are available by appointment. Other area schools (distance may vary) include:
- The University of Santa Barbara (1 hour away)
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Cooperative Extension-University Of California
Main Base Address And Phone Number
Vandenberg Space Force Base
6 California Blvd
Vandenberg SFB, CA 93437-6223
- DSN 312-276-0039
Important Vandenberg SFB Phone Numbers
- Area Defense Counsel 606‐3627
- Assignments (Inbound/Outbound) 605‐0289
- Billeting‐Lodging 606‐1844
- Civil Eng: Customer Service 606‐0010
- Civil Eng: Damage Control Center 606‐1856
- Child Development Center 606‐1555
- AF Civilian Personnel Customer Svc 606‐3641
- Clothing Sales, Military 606‐5111
- Commissary 734‐3354
- Community Center 606‐7976
- Community Support Center 606‐0039
- DSN Operator 312‐560‐1110
- Education Office 605‐5900
- Family Practice Appoint (Sick Call) 606‐2273
- Fire Dispatch 606‐5380
- Health Benefits Advisor 606‐6785
- Healthwise Nurse 888‐252‐3299
- Housing Maintenance 734‐1488
- Housing Customer Service(Recording) 606‐1840
- Infection Control 606‐1846
- Launch Update Recording 12000/30 SW/PA 606‐8263
- Law Enforcement (LE Desk) (Admin) 606‐3911
- Legal Assistance Appointments 605‐6207
- Locator, Military 411
- Military Pay 606‐4606
- MPF Cust Svc‐ID Card Application 606‐2276
- Office of Special Invest‐Duty Hours 606‐1852
- Office of Special Invest‐After Hour 606‐3911
- Pharmacy Assistance 606‐7440
- Pharmacy Refill (Recording) 605‐0200
- Poison Control Center (1‐800) 800‐222‐1222
- Post Office (US) BX Area 734‐2336
- Postal Service Center (PSC) 606‐1841
- Public Affairs 606‐3595
- School: Cabrillo High School 742‐2900
- School: Chestnut 742‐3131
- School: Crestview Elementary 742‐2050
- School: Manzanita Charter 734‐5600
- School: Maple High 742‐3150
- School: Martha Negas Orthopedic 734‐3528
- School: Vandenberg Middle 742‐2700
- Shoppette 734‐2250
- Shoppette 605‐8269
- Skills Development Center 606‐6438
- Substance Abuse Office 606‐8217
- Tax Assistance 606‐3650
- Taxi, Base (Military) 606‐1843
- TMO (Inbound) 606‐2249
- TMO (Outbound) 606‐0902
- Travel (Official) 606‐0350
- Travel Pay 606‐4606
- TRIWEST 888‐874‐9378
- Visitor Center 606‐7662
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.