Space in the spotlight

High-profile space events in recent weeks have continued to elevate the industry across the region and state.


REACH CEO Melissa James speaks at the national Assured Access to Space Industry Days Forum at Vandenberg Space Force BaseMost recent was the chance to address more than 200 space industry representatives and senior military, intelligence and government leaders about regional work to spur opportunities in the Central Coast commercial space industry.

The event was the national Assured Access to Space Industry Days Forum at Vandenberg Space Force Base, where REACH presented alongside the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

“It was an amazing opportunity to spread the message about the regional collaboration boosting Vandenberg in reaching its potential as a growing, competitive frontier in the 21st-century space race.” — REACH President/CEO Melissa James

The aim of the event is to bolster the space domain through partnerships with industry, though military officials acknowledge that the partnership between REACH, the State, Space Launch Delta 30, Cal Poly and the County of Santa Barbara plays a critical role.

“One very valuable part of this conference is the participation by the state of California and the local economic development community. They bring a capability that will energize the industry and allow it to grow and thrive to support the Vandenberg mission.” — U.S. Space Systems Command Technical Director Mark D. Bontrager

VIPs make the case for space

A few weeks earlier, REACH was invited to participate in our third White House event this year, this one at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland where Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about growing a vibrant commercial space sector.

Attended by a small group of national space industry leaders, with Central Coast representation from REACH and Santa Barbara-based Umbra, it was an important opportunity for state and federal leaders to showcase the incredible work happening on space and aeronautics in California.

Building on the Vice President’s visit to Vandenberg this spring and the recent announcements of significant state tax credits to leading commercial space companies operating on the Central Coast, it was also the first time Newsom endorsed the region’s advocacy efforts to attract STARCOM to Vandenberg.

“And we are waiting anxiously for the formal announcement – because I don’t even know why we are even going through a process – to bring STARCOM to the state of California and Vandenberg. So, we’re looking forward to that announcement next with the Vice President of the United States as well.” — Gov. Gavin Newsom

Paso Spaceport proposal gains ground

The proposal to transform the underutilized Paso Robles airport into a horizontal launch pad for low-earth orbit payloads is gaining ground, with Cal Poly now signed on as a partner.

Cal Poly, which will take the lead on the FAA application, is excited about the prospect of sending university satellites into space more readily.

“It’s gonna be a real win-win for Cal Poly as well as Paso Robles.” — Cal Poly Professor Henry Danielson

“Having Cal Poly as a partner is really amazing on many levels — just their name brand recognition in the engineering world has brought companies to us.” — Paso Robles Economic Development Manager Paul Sloan

The proposal got airtime on NPR’s national All Things Considered program as a way to help the region’s economic future take flight as drought threatens to impact the wine industry. Have a listen. Unfamiliar with the idea? Catch up at the New Times. And get a quick take on the city’s 10-year plan for jobs, housing and hotels here.

Want more space? Here are a few recent highlights: