Leadership Santa Maria Valley: A day at Vandenberg Space Force Base

On Friday, December 3rd, the Leadership class got to tour Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB). Our guide was Lieutenant Darras and he put together a wonderful day. We started with a briefing given to us by Colonel Kris Barcomb, a Vice Commander on the Base. We learned that VSFB hosts both military and civilian operations. Col. Barcomb shared with us about the operations and launches that have happened during 2021 and a glimpse into what is to come in 2022. He also joined us at lunch to share more about the Base and answer any questions that we had.

From there we were bussed over to the Western Range Operation Control Center. This is the center of all launch operations. We learned what happens from preparing for the launch, making sure that the public will be safe throughout launch, what happens during the countdown and after the launch.

Next on the agenda was a demonstration of the military working dogs. These well-trained, beautiful dogs are used for security around the Base. They, along with their handlers, are also occasionally deployed oversees to support the work of the USAF.

After lunch, the class went to the Heritage Museum at the north end of the Base. There Jay Prichard, Space and Missile Technology Center director, taught us the history of missiles and the Base. His enthusiasm was contagious and we all were amazed at how much has happened in Space Technology over the years.

We ended the day by traveling to the south end of the Base to tour Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC 6). This is the launch pad for the heavy rockets and is currently used by United Launch Alliance. At one time SLC 6 was adapted to launch the Space Shuttle, but that program was cancelled for Vandenberg after the Challenger explosion in 1986.

It is always fascinating to be a guest and tour the Base. Leadership Santa Maria Valley is truly honored to be able to visit each year. Thank you again to Col. Barcomb and Lt. Darras for a great day!