SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Vandenberg Air Force Base is in the running to be the headquarters of United States Space Command. Leaders from across the region have come together and submitted a proposal to the U.S. Air Force office evaluating candidates. The proposal outlines why the Central Coast would be the ideal permanent home for U.S. Space Command.
The Regional Economic Action Coalition (REACH) compiled data on the area's work force, infrastructure, educational institutions, and space-related activities. The documents were submitted Wednesday.
“Pulling together this significant effort served to prove out what we already knew," said Andrew Hackleman from REACH. "The Central Coast, with a burgeoning aerospace ecosystem, educated workforce and world-class higher education, offers all the ingredients to support the U.S. Space Command’s mission and people.”
U.S. Space Command is temporarily housed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Vandenberg Air Force Base is currently home to a Combined Space Operations Center where U.S. and allied personnel track objects and activities in space.
When Space Command is fully operational and the permanent site is established, it will be home to 1,500 personnel. That build-out is expected to take about six years.
REACH says Space Command will be home to a 4-star general, international liaisons and high-level military personnel encompassing aerospace engineers and technicians, computer and information system scientists, mathematicians, and space scientists.
On Wednesday Santa Barbara County Supervisors submitted a letter expressing interest in participating in the process and providing a liaison through the County Executive Office. Supervisors see an opportunity for commercial development and higher paying jobs in the area.
“I enthusiastically support the base’s application to be the permanent home for U.S. Space Command,” said Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose district encompasses the base. “Our region is well suited from a strategic, economic, and resource standpoint to be Space Command's home. Through REACH, a robust partnership has already been created between Vandenberg Air Force Base, the County of Santa Barbara, the City of Lompoc, GO-Biz, and local institutions of higher education, which has brought all these entities into alignment in support of Space Command at Vandenberg.”
The headquarters would be established on a 27-acre parcel on base, close to the nearly completed state-of-the-art facility built to support the Combined Space Operations Center already located on the base.
In addition to endorsements from local leaders, REACH says Vandenberg’s candidacy has received support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal.
“Vandenberg Air Force Base houses the Combined Space Operations Center and already serves as the prime West Coast launch site for the Department of Defense," Carbajal said. "The infrastructure is already in place for Vandenberg to defend our national interests in space, and the surrounding community offers several unparalleled advantages.”
REACH says establishing U.S. Space Command on the Central Coast would attract investment and high-quality jobs in a $425 billion industry expected to grow to $3 trillion over the next three decades.
Submissions are expected to be narrowed down by November, with a short list of candidates moving on for further evaluation and in-person review. A final decision is expected sometime in early 2021.