Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 6 — known as "Slick Six" — welcomes newest occupant SpaceX, after the agency was granted permission to lease a second launch pad for future Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket missions.
The southernly SLC-6 pad, which supported the Delta IV vehicle family for 16 years and has remained vacant since the final Delta IV Heavy launch on Sept. 24, 2022, was originally developed for Titan III rockets and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory reconnaissance space station in the 1960s before the program's cancellation.
"This is an exciting time for Vandenberg Space Force Base, our nation’s premier West Coast launch site for military, civil and commercial space operations," said Col. Rob Long, SLD 30 commander, who on April 21 signed a statement of support for the new leasee. "This agreement will add to the rich history of SLC-6 and builds on the already strong partnership with SpaceX."
According to reports, SpaceX intends to utilize both SLC-6 and Complex 4E (SLC-4) pads for future launches, ramping up activity from the West Coast.
The Hawthorne-based agency has so far in 2023 launched eight missions from SLC-4, which consists of two pads — both used by SpaceX for Falcon 9, one for launch operations, and other as Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) for SpaceX landings.
SpaceX's first Falcon 9 launch from SLC–4 took place on Sept. 9, 2013.
The leasing decision, according to a statement released by Space Launch Delta 30 (SLD 30), is the result of a first round of launch pad allocations conducted as part of a process that evaluates the safety and suitability of various launch sites for different types of rockets and payloads.
Additional rounds of allocations are expected to occur in the future after further operational analysis are conducted, officials noted.
Lisa André covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, editions of the Santa Maria Times.