Vandenberg Air Force Base will become Vandenberg Space Force Base Friday afternoon — the third installation to adopt the new service’s moniker so far.
“For 63 years, this has been an Air Force base,” 30th Space Wing boss Col. Anthony Mastalir told Air Force Times Wednesday. “The moment is not lost on the people here that, when we plant the Space Force flag, so to speak, and we change that name, we’re going to begin a new chapter.”
The California base is home to one of two major military launch ranges that ferry satellites and other spacecraft to polar orbit. It also hosts several other military space organizations, including multiple operations units under the Space Force and U.S. Space Command, and testing for the Minuteman III land-based nuclear missiles and the Ground-Based Interceptor missile-defense system.
The NROL-82 satellite lifted off Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket at 1:47 p.m.
Vandenberg’s host wing, the 30th Space Wing, is similarly changing its name to Space Launch Delta 30. The shift is in line with other space-focused wings that are part of the Space Force, which is trying to create an identity separate from the Air Force.
Its sister installations in Florida, Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, ditched their Air Force titles in December. The 45th Space Wing there also recently changed its title to Space Launch Delta 45.
“During this ceremony, the 30th Operations Group and 30th Mission Support Group will inactivate and transition from the operations and mission support group commanders to vice commander positions,” the Space Force said in a release. “This new organization allows squadron commanders to report directly to the SLD 30 commander, creating efficiency on all echelons.”
While the ceremony marks the launch delta’s transfer into the Space Force, it does not change Vandenberg’s status as an Air Force-owned base, service spokesperson Lynn Kirby said.
Space Systems Command will be in charge of developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining new capabilities for the U.S. Space Force.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, enacted Jan. 1, blocks the Space Force from transferring any military installation under the new service’s jurisdiction until the Air Force secretary briefs lawmakers on the cost of doing so. Spokespeople for the Space Force and the House and Senate Armed Services committees did not immediately answer whether the service has cleared that hurdle.
Regardless of ownership, Vandenberg expects to host 14 launches this year, including more Starlink internet satellites for SpaceX.
“We’re going to build on the successes and the legacies of all the airmen that went before us,” Mastalir said. “It’s an exciting time to be in the Central Coast.