Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 4

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Space Launch Complex 4
Final Titan IV launch.jpg
Final Titan IV launch from SLC-4E
Launch site Vandenberg AFB
Location 34.632706°N
Short name SLC-4
Operator US Air Force
SpaceX (4E from 2011)
Total launches 162
Launch pad(s) 2
Minimum / maximum
orbital inclination
51° – 145°
SLC-4W (PALC-2-3) launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 93
First launch 12 July 1963
Atlas-Agena D / OPS-1467
Last launch 18 October 2003
Titan 23G / USA-172
Associated rockets Atlas LV-3 Agena-D
Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D
Titan IIIB
Titan 23G
SLC-4E (PALC-2-4) launch history
Status Active
Launches 69
First launch 14 August 1964
Atlas-Agena D / OPS 3802
Last launch 29 September 2013
Falcon 9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE
Associated rockets Atlas LV-3 Agena-D
Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D
Titan IIID
Titan 34D
Titan IV
Falcon 9
Falcon Heavy (future)

Space Launch Complex 4 (SLC-4) is a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base with two pads, one of which is used by SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. The complex was used by Atlas and Titan rockets between 1963 and 2005. It consisted of two launch pads, SLC-4W and SLC-4E, which were formerly designated PALC2-3 and PALC2-4 respectively. Both pads were built for use by Atlas-Agena rockets, but were later rebuilt to handle Titan rockets. The designation SLC-4 was applied at the time of the conversion to launch Titans.[1]

Space Launch Complex 4E is currently leased by SpaceX as a launch site for the Falcon 9 rocket, which first flew from Vandenberg on 29 September 2013.[2] A 24 month refurbishment program started in early 2011.[3][4]



A Titan 23G on SLC-4W


The first launch to use what is now SLC-4 occurred on 12 July 1963, when an Atlas LV-3 Agena-D launched the first KH-7 Gambit reconnaissance satellite, from PALC2-3. Twelve Atlas-Agenas launches were conducted from PALC2-3, with the last occurring on 12 March 1965.

Titan IIIB[edit]

Following this, it was rebuilt as SLC-4W, a Titan launch complex. The first Titan launch from SLC-4W was a Titan IIIB, on 29 July 1966. All 70 Titan IIIB launches occurred from SLC-4W, with the last on 12 February 1987.

Titan 23G[edit]

After the retirement of the Titan IIIB, it became a Titan 23G launch site, and twelve Titan II launches, using the 23G orbital configuration, were conducted between 5 September 1988 and 18 October 2003. Following the retirement of the Titan 23G, SLC-4W was deactivated. 93 rockets were launched from SLC-4W.

SLC-4W was the site of the launch of Clementine, the only spacecraft to be launched from Vandenberg to the Moon, which was launched by a Titan 23G on 25 January 1994.[citation needed]

Future uses[edit]

As of July 2014, published that SpaceX is considering leasing SLC-4W for use as a Return-To-Launch-Site (RTLS) vertical-landing facility for reusable first-stage boosters of the Reusable Falcon 9 (F9R) and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles that would be launched from SLC-4E.[5]

Principal structures on the pad were demolished in September of 2014 as refurbishment began.[6]

Launch history[edit]

Date Launch Vehicle Payload
12 July, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
06 September, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
25 October, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
18 December, 1963 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
25 February, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
11 March, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
23 April, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
19 May, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
06 July, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?] / P-11[which?]
23 October, 1964 Atlas LV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?] / P-11[which?]
23 January, 1965 Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]
12 March, 1965 Atlas SLV-3 Agena-D KH-7 Gambit[which?]



The first launch from PALC2-4 occurred on 14 August 1964, when a KH-7 satellite was launched by an Atlas-Agena D. After 27 Atlas-Agena launches, the last of which was on 4 June 1967, the complex was deactivated.[citation needed]

Titan IIID[edit]

Titan IIID launch from SLC-4E

During 1971 the complex was reactivated and refurbished for use by the Martin Marietta Titan III launch vehicles. The Titan IIID made its maiden flight from SLC-4E on 15 June 1971, launching the first KH-9 Hexagon satellite.[7] The first KH-11 Kennan satellite was launched from the complex on 19 December 1976.[8] All 22 Titan IIIDs were launched from SLC-4E, with the last occurring on 17 November 1982.

Titan 34D[edit]

The complex was then refurbished to accommodate the Martin Marietta Titan 34D. Seven Titan 34Ds were launched between 20 June 1983, and 6 November 1988.[citation needed] On 18 April 1986, a Titan 34D exploded less than nine seconds after launch, showering debris over the launch pad.[9]

Titan IV[edit]

The last type to use the complex was the Titan IV, starting on 8 March 1991, with the launch of Lacrosse 2. On 19 October 2005, the last flight of a Titan rocket occurred, when a Titan IVB was launched from SLC-4E, with an Improved Crystal satellite. Following this launch, the complex was deactivated, having been used for 68 launches.[citation needed]


SpaceX refurbished SLC–4E for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches,[2][10] in a 24-month process that began in early 2011.[3] The draft environmental impact assessment with a finding of "no significant impact" was published in February 2011.[3] Demolition began on the pad's fixed and mobile service towers in summer 2011.[11]

By late 2012, SpaceX continued to anticipate that the initial launch from the Vandenberg pad would be in 2013, but would be a Falcon 9 launch—actually, a heavily modified and much larger Falcon 9 v1.1.[12] As the pad was nearing completion in February 2013, the first Falcon 9 launch was scheduled for summer 2013,[13] but was launched on 29 September 2013, and was the maiden flight of the Falcon 9 v1.1 configuration, carrying Canada's CASSIOPE satellite.[14]


  1. ^ Air Force FOIA electronic reading room: List of launches from SLC-4 East and West
  2. ^ a b Simburg, Rand. "SpaceX Press Conference". Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Scully, Janene (2011-02-05). "Report: Falcon plan OK for environment". Santa Maria Times (Santa Maria, California: Lee Enterprises). Retrieved 7 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "". SpaceX. 15 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Bergin, Chris (2014-07-28). "SpaceX Roadmap building on its rocket business revolution". NASAspaceflight. Retrieved 2014-07-28. At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Wade, Mark. "Titan". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  8. ^ "Titan 3D". Gunther's Space Page. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "SpaceX announces launch date for FH". 
  11. ^ "". SpaceX. 15 August 2011. Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "SpaceX Gears Up for Launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base". Space News. 2012-11-12. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  13. ^ "First look/SpaceX Launch Complex/Vandenberg AFB". 2013-02-11. Retrieved 2013-04-01. 
  14. ^, SpaceX Falcon 9 From Vandenberg AFB Near Perfect (accessed 5 August 2014)

Coordinates: 34°37′58″N 120°36′48″W / 34.632706°N 120.613393°W / 34.632706; -120.613393