SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Vandenberg Air Force base is poised to be a key solution to space exploration, science and defense in the future along with an economic booster for the Central Coast.
In a presentation to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, the base was described as the center of gravity for projects that would be part of a strategic plan for the future.
Air Force Colonel Anthony Mastalir explained the details of an evolving and growing use for the base.
Both Space X and the United Launch Alliance have launches on the calendar with more in the future planner.
It involves its unique site for launches. "Geography is important. We have a straight shot to the south. We are the nation's primary polar orbit launch site. To achieve that orbit you have to launch due south," said Mastalir in a remote broadcast to the board meeting. "We have a shot directly south. We do not fly over land until we reach Antarctica.
The base already has had years of use. There are many acres of previously disturbed land. "We used to be Camp Cook where troops trained before they were sent to combat operations in World War Two," said Mastalir.
There are already state of the art systems in place that are vital to the Air Force and space launches.
"We have the nation's primary space control center. CSOC (Combined Space Operational Center) The base already has the vital Vandenberg Tracking Station," said Mastalir.
Another large scale launch is set for later this year. Parts for the Delta IV heavy rocket just arrived at the base boat ramp.
Two major universities are nearby which could provide synergy for research and job creation. UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have already begun partnerships, and anticipate high tech jobs for the future along with economically stability.
The potential is very significant. "Never before have we seen an interest at the national level," said Mastalir, "to embrace the commercial market."
Vandenberg is set to offer extended leases for commercial operations and national security launches.
"This is a perfect storm to develop partnerships," said Mastilir.
Vandenberg is already increasing its infrastructure with Space Launch Complex (SLC) 8 for new companies. Millions of dollars have been allocated for improvements. Mastalir said, "we believe SLC 8 could be a potential incubator for companies.
He said it would be a place for first launches and those with little data. SLC 8 is a perfect place for new companies to fail early and learn from that and built that into their designs.
The REACH (Regional Economic Action Coalition) group is working with the county on future plans where a diverse range of residents can survive and thrive in the area. The members are concerned about the economic future beyond a region where there's a perceptions that only students, seniors and retires can live.
Supervisor Das Williams said the work on a strategic direction for economic improvements will help the 50 percent of the work force that are not making a solid wage to buy a home and raise a family.
The economic development strategy for the county has been a working project for years and has a new sense of urgency with the scaled back operations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant and the advancement potential at Vandenberg.
The county is drafting a letter of support for the collaboration with Vandenberg and REACH in the future.
For more information go to : Vandenberg Air Force Base