Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate


The Space and Missile Systems Center's Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate (SMC/LE), was stood up Oct. 14, 2015 at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. The directorate brings together the Launch Systems Directorate and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, which formerly fell under SMC's Advanced Systems and Development Directorate (SMC/AD) at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This realignment not only advances SMC's capability development, but feeds into the next generation of SMC's space systems and into architectural baselines for decades to come

The directorate's mission is to be the guardian of assured access: launching when and where the nation needs it. SMC/LE's vision statement is to be the most respected and innovative spacelift team, delivering mission success while enabling a robust U.S. launch industry This capability provides assured access to space for the nation. SMC/LE's mission also includes mission assurance and launch safety.

The directorate manages the National Security Space Launch program (NSSL, formerly the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, or EELV) for the Air Force, based on the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act designating the formal name change on March 1, 2019. The change was prompted by the Secretary of Defense where the NSSL program shall provide consideration of both reusable and expendable launch vehicles with respect to any future solicitation.

As the Air Force's spacelift modernization program, EELV was designed to increase reliability and reduce launch costs by at least 25 percent over heritage Atlas, Delta and Titan space launch systems. The NSSL program continues this mission today with launch capability provided by ULA's  Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles, SpaceX's Falcon 9 Upgrade and their associated launch sites. 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the first EELV launch. In March 2012, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum designating EELV as an Acquisition Category ID Major Defense Acquisition Program.

While the directorate's primary responsibility is the acquisition and operation of launch vehicles, SMC/LE is also leading an effort to certify "new entrants" to provide launch services for National Security payloads. The Air Force, National Reconnaissance Office, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration are jointly implementing this initiative. SMC/LE's mission also includes mission assurance and launch safety.


The SMC/LE Directorate is part of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., and is home to, or supported by, more than 540 government, military, aerospace and contractor personnel at Los Angeles AFB, Kirtland AFB and other locations across the country.

Related Fact Sheets:
National Security Space Launch