VAFB ROCKET LAUNCHES:

WARNING:  Launches are often canceled (or "scrubbed") and then rescheduled due to technical difficulties or poor weather conditions.  Check the hotline given below just prior to your departure.  You will get some credit for going even if the launch is canceled (just follow the directions on submitting for credit given below).

There are numerous rocket launches that occur throughout the year that you may watch from Vandenberg AFB observation areas just north and south of the base.  Some, but not all launches, may be viewable from Santa Barbara.  You may call the Vandenberg Launch Update Hotline at 805-606-8263, or if your questions aren't answered on the hotline you can try the VAFB Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595, or visit www.vandenberg.af.mil/questions/topic.asp?id=745 for specific launch information.  The general public is not permitted on base for rocket launches, however, you may view the launch from a designated viewing area just outside the base.  See below for directions.  For more information on VAFB operations in general, visit www.vandenberg.af.mil.  A great website for more detailed info on specific rocket launch info and news, go to http://spaceflightnow.com/.

A comprehensive website that gives launch information as well as instructions and recommendations for viewing, can be found at the Launch Alert Space Archives Website.

Directions to Launch Viewing Area by the VAFB Main Gate: 
The public viewing site for Vandenberg launches is off of Corral Road near Vandenberg's main gate. To access the area, take Highway 1 to the Santa Maria Gate and proceed on Lompoc Casmalia Road.  At the barriers, turn right onto Corral Road and bear left to the top. The launch countdown net and port-o-lets are set up near the bleachers.   It is important that you call the Vandenberg Launch Update Hotline at 805-606-1857 to determine if the launch will be easily viewed from this location.  Some launches may occur in other areas not easily accessible to the general public.

Directions to Launch Viewing Area at Surf Beach:
Some launches are from the southern part of the base.  A good observation area for viewing south base launches is Surf Beach.  If you go out on the actual beach, be aware of the snowy plover (endangered bird nesting grounds) restrictions. There are signs and fences up to let you know what areas are off-limits though. You might see vehicles parked along Ocean avenue as you head towards the beach, so if the parking lot is full you can pull off to the side of the road and view from along there.

Take HWY 101 north from Santa Barbara and take the HWY1 exit to Lompoc. Once you've reached Lompoc just take a left from HWY1 onto Ocean Ave. Then you can just follow Ocean Ave past the town and the farm fields towards the beach.

Check the hotline above for more info.  Here are Google directions:
Directions to Surf Beach from Santa Barbara

HOW TO GET CREDIT FOR GOING:
You may receive Extra Credit for viewing a rocket launch on location (on site) at VAFB.  A short essay (approx one page long or about 500 words in length) outlining the days events and your thoughts about the rocket launch along with information on the payload must be submitted to receive credit.  Be sure to identify the type of rocket launched and research the payload.  In addition to the information provided by the VAFB web sites, for scientific missions, you can often google for more information.  IMPORTANT: To receive credit for this activity, you must go to VAFB.  It is not sufficient to see the launch from Santa Barbara, Goleta, Gaviota, Santa Maria, or Lompoc.

For fun, to confirm your viewing of the rocket, try to take a photo of you standing at the VAFB Observation site with the rocket taking off in the background.  OK, that may be asking for a lot, but you can try.  At least get a picture of yourself wherever you end up viewing the launch, showing VAFB in the background.  You may also receive partial credit (5 pts) for rocket launches that are canceled (since this does occur from time to time), provided that you went to the VAFB Observation Area as instructed.  Write up your experiences just the same and turn in for credit.

EXTRA CREDIT = 7 PTS (Depending on your write up and research of the rocket and payload)
EXTRA CREDIT LIMIT OF ONE ROCKET LAUNCH PER SEMESTER!

EXTRA CREDIT ESSAY TO BE ANSWERED USING MOODLE (for those in lecture class)!
Instructions given in class on how to do this.