Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10

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Space Launch Complex 10
Thor DSV-2U launch with DMSP-5D-F5 satellite.jpg
A Thor DSV-2U carrying a DMSP weather satellite launches from SLC-10W in 1980. This was the last orbital launch from the complex.
Launch site Vandenberg AFB
Location 34°45'55"N
Short name SLC-10
Operator US Air Force
Royal Air Force
Total launches 38
Launch pad(s) 2
Min / max
orbital inclination
51° – 145°
SLC-10W launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 32
First launch 14 August 1959
PGM-17 Thor
Last launch 15 July 1980
Thor DSV-2U / DMSP-5D1 F-5
PGM-17 Thor
Thor MG-18
Thor DSV-2U
SLC-10E launch history
Status Inactive
Launches 6
First launch 16 June 1959
PGM-17 Thor
Last launch 19 March 1962
PGM-17 Thor
PGM-17 Thor
Space Launch Complex 10
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10 is located in California
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10 is located in the US
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10
Location Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California
Coordinates 34°45′55″N 120°37′20″W / 34.76528°N 120.62222°W / 34.76528; -120.62222Coordinates: 34°45′55″N 120°37′20″W / 34.76528°N 120.62222°W / 34.76528; -120.62222
Architect United States Air Force
NRHP reference # 86003511[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 23, 1986
Designated NHL June 23, 1986[2]

Space Launch Complex 10, or Missile Launch Complex 10,[3] is located on Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. It was built in 1958 to test ballistic missiles and developed into a space launching facility in 1963.[4] Prior to 1966 Space Launch Complex 10 West was known as Vandenberg AFB Pad 75-2-6.[5] It remains a rare pristine look at the electronics and facilities created in that era that helped the United States grow its space capabilities.

The last launch from this complex was a Thor booster in 1980.[3] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.[2][3]

It is undergoing an eight-year restoration, and public visits are possible, if arranged in advance.[6]


The launch complex was built in 1958 by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, and was first designated Complex 75-2. At that time it consisted of three launch pads, which were used to train military operators of PGM-17 Thor ballistic missiles, and to conduct missile launch tests. The first launches were conducted by the British Royal Air Force in June and August 1959.[3] The facilities at SLC-10 were dismantled and transported to Johnston Island in support of Operation Dominic, a nuclear weapons testing project conducted there in 1962.

The launch complex was rebuilt in 1963 to support the development of Burner rockets, with two launch pads, designated SLC-10E and SLC-10W. Tests were conducted at SLC-10W from 1965 to 1980, using the Thor satellite launch vehicles, the first stages of which followed the design of the Thor missile.

Surviving elements

Two launch pads and a prefabricated launch blockhouse are the principal surviving elements of the complex. The blockhouse interior still includes all of the electrical equipment used in later launches. SLC-10W also includes pipes and storage facilities for storing and managing the liquid fuel used in the rockets.[7]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "Space Launch Complex 10". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  3. ^ a b c d Captain Mark C. Mondl (January 3, 1986). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Space Launch Complex 10 / Missile Launch Complex 10" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 5 photos, exterior and interior, undated. (601 KB)
  4. ^ DOD NHL details for California
  5. ^ Ed Kyle (3 July 2009). "Thor Burner - Sixth in a Series Reviewing Thor Family History".
  6. ^ NPS History of Aviation
  7. ^ "Space Launch Complex 10". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-02-13.

Further reading

  • Page, Joseph T. (2014). Images of America: Vandenberg Air Force Base. Arcadia Publishing. OCLC 905345173.
  • Page, Joseph T. (2016). Space Launch Complex Ten: Vandenberg's Cold War Historic Landmark. History Press. OCLC 952155149.

External links

  • Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
  • DOD NHL details for California
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