Anticipation is growing for a rocket launch scheduled this weekend at Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The final launch of the Delta IV heavy rocket on the west coast is set to take place this Saturday.
The United States Space Force says that this is the end of an era, but the beginning of a bright future for Vandenberg.
One of the largest heavy lift rockets in the world is set to blast off into space from Vandenberg one final time this weekend.
“So, for us, seeing the last Delta launch from Vandenberg is bittersweet for sure, we’re sorry to see it go,” said Colonel Bryan Titus, Vice Commander of Space Launch Delta 30.
The delta rocket carries payloads into space for the National Reconnaissance Office which carries out top secret surveillance for national security.
“We like to say that we’re the nation’s eyes and ears in space,” said Colonel Chad Davis with the NRO’s Office of Space Launch.
Different versions of the delta rocket have been taking off from Vandenberg since 1959.
“Every launch has its thing I found. It is never easy, some of these rockets fight us til the very end,” said Colonel Davis. “It’s like they like sitting on this planet and I’m like ‘what you’re carrying hates it in gravity, we need to get it off of this planet.’”
The era of the delta rocket is coming to an end as lightweight, reusable rockets take priority.
The Delta 4 launch pad will go quiet-- at least temporarily after Saturday’s launch, but there will still be plenty of action at Vandenberg.
“From a resource perspective, there’s not a planned reduction in the workforce out here in California,” said Gary Wentz, Vice President of Government and Commercial Programs.
All eyes, meanwhile, are on Vandenberg as final preparations are underway for this final launch.
“You got to get 10 million parts working on concert simultaneously, perfectly, and then you can launch and so it’s really, really, really hard and it is no kidding rocket science,” said Colonel Davis.
“Luckily, there’s a lot of smart people I can work with on that because that’s not me.”
If you want to see the launch for yourself, the launch window opens at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday.
After Saturday, the era of the delta rocket won’t be over quite yet.
There are still two launches planned from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
ULA is also working to develop the Vulcan rocket with plans to eventually launch from Vandenberg.