By Raiza Giorgi
Vandenberg Air Force Base has been identified as the future location for a thriving spaceport which will be developing a masterplan looking at infrastructure and the future of the space industry from commercial to education advances with several local, state and federal partners.
The memorandum of understanding was developed by leaders from the State of California, REACH, the 30th Space Wing, Cal Poly State University and Deloitte who will be identifying the required infrastructure, human capital development, governance and financing necessary to support the United States Space Force mission.
“This is an exciting time in space for our country and just a year ago we set up Space Force command at Vandenberg and have been working diligently to craft a lean agile mission focusing to ensure our nation preservers in space,” said Colonel Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing Commander at Vandenberg.
The partnership objective is to create a vision for the future of Vandenberg that grows launch services activities from increasing capabilities and additional launch types; building an ecosystem that diversifies the space companies and associated value chains such as working with space data and service companies.
The commercial space activities centered on the base could support a larger industry, and parties envision a robust cluster of space-related activities taking root in the region, with sustained presence of companies across the ecosystem from manufacturing and launch to maintenance and support and enabling human spaceflight for the first time in California.
“The potential for the commercial space industry to provide significant jobs and economic impact to not only the Central Coast, but the entire state of California, makes it worth pursuing aggressively. Through diverse partnerships and collaboration, we will ensure the Central Coast of California is the launchpad for the next frontier of commercial space,” said Melissa James, CEO of REACH.
James added that the space industry is predicted to increase eight-fold, soaring from $350 billion to $2.7 trillion annually over the next three decades and generating high- paying job opportunities in engineering, software, advanced manufacturing and other STEM fields.
NASA’s reinvigorated space program and ambitious Mars plans could also prove a boon to Vandenberg, which launched its first planet-bound mission in 2018. Santa Ynez Valley resident Rich Fisher was a part of that mission as his company Pacific Design Technologies developed advanced cooling and pumping systems for space exploration. Its team of engineers, technicians and support staff worked on the past three Mars explorations of Curiosity Rover and Pathfinder projects. PDT has also help projects on the International Space Station, such as the AMS-02 Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector.
“California has been at the forefront of the aerospace industry for more than a century. This MOU cements that leadership and serves as a critical investment in California’s innovative economy as we work to safely recover from the COVID-19 induced recession,” said Chris Dombrowski, acting director of GO-Biz.
The region boasts several attributes that make it an ideal location for commercial space operations, a sector that is likely to lead high-quality job growth over the coming decades. Vandenberg already maintains active launch capabilities and favorable geography, and Cal Poly said their part of the partnership focuses on producing world-class engineering and science talent.
“With its strong tradition of Learn by Doing, Cal Poly is pleased to work with other institutions in the region to play an instrumental role not only in developing the workforce of the future but also in spurring innovation and teaming with industry to foster growth and reach new milestones. We’re excited to play a key role in supporting the possibilities this landmark agreement holds,” said Jeff Armstrong, Cal Poly President.