How to see a rocket launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, U.S.A. ?

how to see a rocket launch at vandenberg air force base

Vandenberg is a US Air Force base located in California. Its mission is placing satellites into polar orbit using rockets like SpaceX Falcon 9, ULA Delta, Orbital Sciences Minotaur V… Vandenberg is the place to see rocket launches from the West Coast of the U.S.A. !

Where is the Vandenberg Air Force Base ?

Vandenberg Air Force Base

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Vandenberg Air Force Base 34.734700, -120.579000 Vandenberg Air Force Base

Address : 6 California Blvd, Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437, U.S.A.

What rockets are launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base ?

ULA Atlas V launch

ULA Atlas V

ULA Delta IV launch

ULA Delta IV

Orbital Sciences Minotaur V launch

Orbital Sciences Minotaur V

Vandenberg Air Force Base’s official viewing spot : Hawk’s Nest

Address : Azalea Lane, Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA

As Vandenberg is a military base, you are not allowed to enter the base to see a rocket launch, unless you have a special autorization (specialized media for example). But you can access the official viewing area outside the base, called Hawk’s Nest. This site can welcome up to 300 people. There is a porta potty on the viewing site.

Even if Hawk’s Nest is much farther from the launch pad than the Ocean Avenue’s viewing spot (read below), you will not see the coastal fog whereas it is usual on Ocean Avenue. You are sure to enjoy a clear view at Hawk’s Nest, but you should bring a telescope to fully enjoy the rocket launch experience, or at least binoculars.

What you will see from Hawk’s Nest :

Unofficial viewing spots

Ocean Avenue in Lompoc

Ocean Avenue is the closest viewing spot to see SpaceX’s rockets launched from the SLC-4 launch pad. But you will probably suffer from the coastal fog, especially in Summer. Your viewing experience might be a little frustrating if you canno’t see the rocket launch… Even if there is no fog, from Ocean Avenue you will see the rocket once launched, not on the ground.

What you will see from Ocean Avenue :

Santa Lucia Canyon Road

There’s a spot on Santa Lucia Canyon Road which has a partial pad view of SLC-4 and a full view of SLC-3.

The view is partially obscured by hedges but you will see a part of the SLC-4 launch pad an the whole SLC-3 launch pad.

What you will see from Santa Lucia Canyon Road :

Harris Grade road

What you will see from Harris Grade road :

From mountaintops

If you climb on top of mountains around Vandenberg Air Force Base and all the way to Los Angeles, you will enjoy a nice view of the rocket launches.

From Los Angeles beaches

Beaches in Los Angeles view a northern view are nice viewing areas too when the weather is clear, for example Huttington Beach.

What you will see from Los Angeles :

Plan your trip !

Rocket launches schedule and tickets at Vandenberg Air Force Base

Click on the button below to take a look at the next rocket launches on the Space Launch Schedule’s website.


Book your hotel near the Vandenberg Air Force Base

Images by SpaceX/ULA/NASA/Orbital Sciences

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