Why does Vandenberg SFB have the most launches? Is it related to location, when it was founded, something else, etc?

It would make more sense for Florida to have more launches. It is illegal for rockets to fly over the U.S. mainland, so rockets from Florida launches from the east, giving them an extra 1000 miles per hour from the rotational velocity of Earth, while rockets from Vandenberg lose 1000 miles per hour from the rotational velocity of Earth. This makes it easier to launches from Florida. So, why does Vandenberg have the most launches?

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    $\begingroup$ What payloads launch from Vandenberg vs Florida? Who launches them? $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ Vandenberg does not launch east; it is used for polar orbits, so the loss of 1000 mph is not correct. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2022 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ I know, it launches west @OrganicMarble $\endgroup$
    – user47012
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ Polar orbit launches from Vandenberg go south. The launch limits at Vandenberg are 201 and 158 degrees. space.stackexchange.com/a/12619/6944 $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ I am skeptical about your statistics. I found data on Cape Canaveral launches from 1950 through 1999, and they totaled 3182. On the other hand, over the same period, Vandenberg had 1950 launches. Do you have a reference for your data? Here are mine: spaceline.org/history-cape-canaveral/… and spacearchive.info/vafblog.htm $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 11, 2022 at 2:27

2 Answers 2


Because not all orbits should be launched from the east. Polar and retrograde orbits exist too and are very popular. Additionally, Vandenberg is closer to some rocket production facility, making launching from there easier.


Vandenberg does what the Cape cannot do easily: polar and retrograde orbits. These are very popular with a very large customer: the military.

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    $\begingroup$ ( * Vandenberg ) $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2022 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ note that polar launches can be, and have been, done from Florida, e.g. SAOCOM 1B. So this answer is mildly hyperbolic. $\endgroup$
    – Erin Anne
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 19:16

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