Vandenberg in the spotlight

Vice President Harris speaks at Vandenberg SFB

Serving as the stage for Vice President Harris’s announcement of new national commitments to space security and advancement in April generated significant visibility for the base and its mission.

Coming on the heels of the base being named one of six candidates for headquarters of STARCOM, the U.S. Space Force’s Space Training and Readiness Command, the occasion highlighted the many reasons we are energized by the opportunities for VSFB and commercial space in our region.

In a letter to the Vice President after her visit, the regional partnership working to ensure that VSFB remains a premier space asset underscored the collaborative work to invest in elevating Vandenberg toward its full potential.

“As the federal government advances efforts under the United States Space Priorities Framework, we are committed to positioning the Central Coast and California as a cornerstone in our national space efforts,” the letter states.

A few favorite moments from last week’s event:

+ In addition to lofty remarks on space — “It spurs our imaginations, and it forces us to ask big questions” — Vice President Harris called out the vital role of the VSFB-based 18th Space Defense Squadron as “air-traffic control for space,” tracking debris and satellites to prevent collisions.

+ Sen. Alex Padilla noted the substantial contributions that VSFB has made both to the nation’s assured access to space and to California’s leading aerospace ecosystem. “Thanks to critical installations like VSFB, the United States has consistently been a pioneer in satellite imagery and innovation in space.”

+ Commander of the U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson called VSFB a “proud example of our stewardship in space,” while Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond ticked off a few VSFB bragging rights:

  • World’s first polar orbiting satellite launched in 1959
  • World’s first commercial spaceport started operations here in 1996
  • Training and education for the nation’s newest branch of the military, the U.S. Space Force, begins at VSFB
  • Home to the space command and control hub that supports domestic and international Joint/Coalition partners in accomplishing their missions

+ U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal addressed our collaborative work to usher in the next era of national and commercial space innovation. “Know that the Central Coast is working around the clock to make Vandenberg the range of the future that can support these growing industries. We are getting ready for the potential doubling of launch rates over the next five years, and we are getting ready if and when Space Forces calls to make Vandenberg the home for STARCOM.”

+ Following the flurry of media, a Pacific Coast Business Times editorial noted that Vandenberg “is on a bit of a roll lately, and the best may be yet to come.” It concludes: “Space is the final frontier for the Central Coast economy, and Vandenberg is playing a key role.”

Space all over the place

Vandenberg isn’t the only place where space has been high on the agenda recently.

+ Plans for a commercial spaceport in Paso Robles are gaining momentum. Spaceplane developer Wagner Star Industries and Cal Poly signed letters of intent to utilize a Paso horizontal launch spaceport. Such letters can help in the FAA approval process, which will take a couple years.

“From a tractor pull to a spaceport”: Read/listen to more at KCBX.

+ Paso Mayor Steve Martin also joined REACH CEO Melissa James and ACI Jet CEO Bill Borgsmiller to discuss how expanding the space and aerospace ecosystem can benefit the region by diversifying the economy and adding new high-paying jobs on KCBX’s Central Coast Voices last week.

+ “Space-Enabled Earth Justice” was the topic at both the City of San Luis Obispo’s new Diversity Speaker Series and UCSB’s Justice for All series last month. MIT aeronautics Professor Danielle Wood spoke about applying space research to advancing social good on the ground, from preventing famine to combating environmental degradation. Catch her 10-minute TED Talk on YouTube.