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Vandenberg Space Force Base Boosters Say Major Progress Made In Plans to Expand Commercial Space Operations On Base

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(United Launch Alliance photo)
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A United Launch Alliance Delta-4 Heavy Rocket set for liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base

Study shows expansion could create 2,000 new jobs in region

It was 60 years ago when President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet to Congress, and America, challenging the United States to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade.

Even though JFK didn’t live to see it, we met that goal, and have moved on to explore other planets, like Mars.

There is a push underway to insure that the Central Coast plays a bigger part in space programs. Vandenberg Space Force Base plays a key role in the nation’s military, and civilian space launch programs. A coalition of government, education, and non-profit groups is trying to expand the region’s commercial space industry. It could add thousands of jobs, and more than a billion dollars annually to the Central Coast’s economy.

Andrew Hackleman is the Chief Operating Officer for “Reach,” a non-profit group formed to advocate for the expansion of space related activities at Vandenberg. He says the base has some unique assets which could allow it to grow its role in the global space industry. It includes the ability to launch satellites into a polar orbit, one of the longest runways on the West Coast, and more than 100,000 acres of land.

Key to this effort is a new master plan setting targets to expand the base’s role in the space industry.

Hacklman says there are things which need to be improved for the base to compete with other major launch facilities around the country:

Boosters had hoped that Vandenberg would be named the headquarters of the U.S. Space Force, noting that as a military and civilian launch facility with ample room it would make sense. It would have meant thousands of new jobs. It was decided to put it in Huntsville. Alabama, although the decision is under review.

Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara says boosters need to move past that, and look at what needs to be done attract more space industry business.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has been involved in studies involved with the space expansion effort. President Jefferey Armstrong says the base is good for the region’s colleges, allowing educational and scientific collaborations. He says it’s also a key part of the region’s economy.

A study released by REACH shows the base currently is responsible for about 14,000 jobs, and 4.5 billion dollars revenue for the region’s economy.

But, it says the potential is there to add about 2,000 jobs, and boost the economic impact from $4.5 billion to $6 billion dollars by 2030.