This answer to Why did the Firefly Alpha launch 6 months ago fail? quotes a Space News article which says:

Space Launch Delta 30, which operates the range at Vandenberg, then destroyed the rocket using its flight termination system.

Wikipedia's Space Launch Delta 30 begins:

Space Launch Delta 30 (SLD 30) is a United States Space Force space launch delta assigned to Space Systems Command and headquartered at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The Space Launch Delta 30 is responsible for all space launch operations from the west coast, which includes all polar launches. It manages the Western Range and launch activities for the Space Force, Department of Defense, NASA, and other private space corporations. The Space Launch Delta 30 also supports test and evaluation launches of the U.S. Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile force.

From this I see that

  • SLD 30 is a "space launch delta" (lower case noun)
  • twice "the Space Launch Delta 30" appears, and the "the" puzzles me.

It's possible I will understand those better when the following is answered:

Question: What is a "space launch delta", how many of them are there, and what fraction of them are assigned to Space Force?


1 Answer 1


Partial answer:

What is a "space launch delta",

Essentially what the 30th (and 45th) Space Wings used to be.

how many of them are there, and

Two, under Space Systems Command, US Space Force.

what fraction of them are assigned to Space Force?

All of them? It is what the 30th and 45th Space Wings used to be, with some consolidation, and are still based.

It is actually a relatively new structuring of the US Space Force

Space Force Looks to Operationalize New Structure, Build Culture in 2022


"We have gotten rid of the numbered air force echelon.."

“So we’ve taken the base operating support, all that combat service support functions, and we’ve taken those and put those into a garrison..."

".. and now we have the delta, which is singularly focused on the operational mission that we’ve been assigned.”

The delta, not the squadron, is the “presented force” for the Space Force. And compared to the size of Air Force wings and groups, deltas are small, at least when it comes to personnel.

“...when I was an ops group commander, I started with about 2,000 people, if you add in all the contractors, all the civilians. … Now we’re sitting about 400, 450 total when we add everything together,”

Space Systems Command:

Established at the time when intra-service rivalries had resulted in parallel developments of operational ballistic missiles which could also serve as satellite boosters, and a reconnaissance satellite could provide strategic intelligence on Soviet capabilities . With the other services, the United States Air Force pursued missile and satellite development by establishing the Air Research and Development Command's Western Development Division on 1 July 1954, making Space Systems Command the oldest Department of Defense space organization.


On August 13, 2021, Space Launch Delta 30 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California and Space Launch Delta 45 at Patrick Space Force Base, California, were realigned from Space Operations Command to Space Systems Command.


Introducing: Vandenberg Space Force Base and Space Launch Delta 30

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.”

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.

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.


Space Launch Delta 30 provides host installation services for Vandenberg Space Force Base (SFB).

Personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30 at Vandenberg SFB manage Department of Defense space and missile testing, range operations, and provides the installation infrastructure necessary to place satellites into polar orbit using both expendable and reusable space lift boosters.

Personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30 support Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force Development Evaluation programs. Additionally, Space Launch Delta 30 provides safe launch and range capabilities as the only military installation on the West Coast of the continental United States to fulfill commercial and government customer requirements.

Since 1964, the host installation, range, and launch missions at Vandenberg SFB have been supported by personnel assigned to Space Launch Delta 30, and its predecessor units.

Space Launch Delta 30 manages all launch and range missions on the Western range that are conducted from Vandenberg, including launch activities for the Space Force, Air Force, Department of Defense, NASA, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Firefly Aerospace, and other commercial space partner organizations.

The emblem of SLD30 retains some of the elements from its previous Air Force role: The blue alludes to the sky, while the Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of its personnel (For SLD30, the Yellow is now Gold, representing Space Systems Command). The two launch vehicles emanating from behind the globe represent the 30th Space Wing's intercontinental ballistic missile test and space launch missions (although now referred to as 'Test' and 'Launch' for SLD30). The remaining red, white, and blue elements represent the national colors of the United States.

Its not the first renaming or restructuring involving the launch complexes, as both 30th and 45th Space Wings were established in 1991.

Reading between the lines, it seems that elements of what used to be the operations groups and launch groups have become the Delta, with Mission Support and Medical Group becoming the Garrison. There was another group that reported directly to the Wing Commander, for decision support and financial assistance, which may have been consolidated further.

Before the name change in 1991, it was the Western Space and Missile Center, which itself replaced separate AF Test and Evaluation Groups, Shuttle Test Group and Missile Test Groups, and up until 1991 was still under Strategic Air Command. Before that, it was the Air Force Western Test Range, which changed to Space and Missile Test Organization responsible for managing the range in 1970.

Link to Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Advantage Research Center virtual Spacepower Forum event with Delta Commanders of 8, 4 and 30.

The stand up of Deltas, this is brand new, and there is a lot of confusion out there, as to what a Delta Command is...will explore that today and ...raise a level of understanding..

Col. Robert A. Long, Space Launch Delta 30 Commander:

Our mission is to provide spaceport and range services to DOD and industry

Operate the Western Range, and provide capabilities across the spectrum of national security, civil, private industry as well as things for missile testing aircraft, testing ground and sea force exercises, quite the gamut, that includes customers like the NRO, National Reconnaissance Office, air force global strike command, missile defense agencies..

We primarily exist to launch into Polar Orbits

over 11,000 folks that are here

aspect of the installation support that makes this a bit different as a space launch delta than some of the other deltas - every one realized the launch mission is really hard to separate the infrastructure side to the actual range and launch operations of the services we provide - they decided to keep both the garrison function and the operational function under the space launch delta.

eliminated a middle management at the group level that forced us to integrate across the installation support and the operations side.

has aligned the launch program office and the two launch operational ranges and space ports under one entity.

And finally:

twice "the Space Launch Delta 30" appears, and the "the" puzzles me.

Mostly likely a leftover from it being addressed as the 30th Space Wing, and in any material you would see it both with and without the 'the'.

The 30th, like its sister Wing, the 45th, took their numbered names from Air Force groups formed during World War 2: The 30th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and the 45th Bombardment Group (Heavy) respectively.

The separation of Air Force from Space Force is not entirely cut and dry, as the Delta is still composed of nine squadrons for support and operations, the medical is still its own group but the other groups have become part of the staff agency.


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