Watch SpaceX launch Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Vandenberg Air Force Base is one of six military bases to make a short list for potential headquarters of the new Space Command — and California officials are pushing for it to be the last one standing.
On Wednesday, Congressman Salud Carbajal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. (and presidential candidate) Kamala Harris sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force urging the Lompoc Air Force base to be chosen as the central headquarters for the new combatant command.
“Vandenberg’s existing space-related missions and assets, as well as its proximity to the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and numerous contractors who support the nation’s national security space enterprise, including space operations, offer Space Command unique and unparalleled advantages,” Carbajal, Feinstein, and Harris wrote in the letter.
“California hosts the nation’s premier workforce for aerospace engineering and innovation, which would offer Space Command an unparalleled talent pool for defending our national interests in space.”
The headquarters would house Space Command, which is separate from President Donald Trump’s more controversial proposed Space Force.
The former would essentially be in charge of space warfare by deploying resources from the current military branches, while the latter would create an entirely new military branch to handle operations in space. The United States previously had a Space Command from 1985 to 2002, but it was absorbed into a separate command after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to free up resources for homeland defense.
Vandenberg was identified as a potential home base back in April, when CNN obtained an Air Force memo listing potential sites for the command.
The local military base has been a hot spot for rocket launches and other space-related activity in recent years, including March’s milestone test of an intercontinental missile defense system.
It’s the only California base on the list. The other five are Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base and Buckley Air Force Base, all in Colorado, and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
The projected manpower for the U.S. Space Command would be “1,450 personnel, including 390 military officers, 183 enlisted personnel, 827 civilians and 50 contractors,” according to the previous CNN report.
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, who represents the 35th District, has also voiced his support for placing the command center at Vandenberg.
In a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on April 24, Cunningham wrote:
“Vandenberg has proven itself to be an excellent launch site and the base’s command has been able to attract private industry partners for launches as well. Additionally, bringing USSPACECOM to Vandenberg would bring even more head-of-household jobs to the Central Coast and be a major boost to our local economy.”
According to the Air Force, the next step will be “to complete site surveys and analysis of each candidate location for its ability to meet mission requirements, capacity, environmental impact and cost criteria.”
A decision on a preferred location is expected sometime this summer.