State of Vandenberg Space Force Base called ‘bright and busy’ during annual address
VANDENBERG SFB, Calif. -- The future for Vandenberg Space Force Base was called "bright and busy" during an annual luncheon co-hosted Wednesday by the Santa Maria Valley and Lompoc Valley chambers.
During the "State of Vandenberg Space Force Base" held at the Pacific Coast Club, dozens of local business and government leaders listened to a presentation from Col. Robert Long, who is the Space Launch Delta 30 Commander.
Over the course of about 30 minutes, Long highlighted many of the base accomplishments over the past year, as well as what the future might hold at the military installation located in Northern Santa Barbara County.
"The future of Vandenberg is definitely bright," said Long. "We are fortunate to be part of an industry that is growing in support and the national security implications of that industry are very important and we're very fortunate to be a small part of that piece in delivering satellites and test missions into space for the future."
Long pointed out there were 19 launches in 2022, which were the most at the base in 26 years. Driving the launches are continued growth of the commercial space industry, as well as government needs.
"We are fortunate that we are here on the Central Coast of California with access to orbits that provides a resilience to our nation in terms of demand signal and supporting our national security customers," said Col. Long. "The growth here really illustrates the importance of Vandenberg, both as not only a space launch base, but as a platform for strategic needs across both the Department of the Air Force and Department of Defense, and so any growth that we see here really speaks back here to the needs of the services, and we're very fortunate that we're here to support them."
As if the 2022 launch tempo wasn't busy enough, the schedule for 2023 shows there are more than 30 expected launches this year and over 40 launches expected in 2024.
"It's exciting times," said Lompoc mayor Jenelle Osborne. "It's exciting time for Vandenberg. It's exciting times for the commercial space industry, and as a result, it's an exciting time for the Lompoc Valley."
Osborne added the City of Lompoc is in prime position, as our other regional locations, to reap the benefits of continued growth with the Vandenberg's launch operations.
It is estimated Vandenberg Space Force Base creates a $4.5 billion impact into the Central Coast economy.
"I think history goes to show, that when the base is successful, Lompoc and the surrounding communities are successful," said Osborne. "We've seen when the base has had a downturn and missions were pulled away and there wasn't much going on at the base and how much it affected Lompoc's local economy, so it's an exciting time and Lompoc and the surrounding communities will benefit as the growth and the national security and the commercial space launch industry expands here, and we want to be a partner in that and making sure that it's a success for everyone."
Santa Maria Valley Chamber President and CEO Glenn Morris emphasized the integral role Vandenberg Space Force Base has on the local economy, indicating it's so large, it's difficult to quantify.
"I think we really haven't even started to scratch the surface of what Vandenberg could really mean to our communities," said Morris. "Obviously, there will be the direct employment as they add missions and the commercial space operations grow out here and then you start to think about what that means about the indirect, so people are working on base, they have a family in many cases, so there may be a spouse who owns a local business or be a talent pool for our local businesses and they might have kids that come into our local school systems, so really the potential, I don't think we've figured out how big it is."
During his address, Long said the base could see the addition of at least 500 jobs over the next five years.
He also pointed out the base faces many challenges, which are identical to those facing local cities and businesses, such as cost of living, access to talented workforce and local infrastructure.
"It just highlights the fact that we really need to come together to find common solutions to common problems," said Long.