071818 Combined Space Ops 15.jpg (copy)

In this July 18, 2018, file photo, unified armed forces members work in the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Air Force announced this month that VAFB is one of six bases being considered to host the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command.

Vandenberg Air Force Base is one of six installations being considered to host the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command, and California’s top elected officials are among those advocating for its selection.

President Donald Trump directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Command in December as the 11th functional Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. military.

The six finalists to host the command, which include four Air Force bases in Colorado and an Army post in Alabama, were announced this month by Heather Wilson, the secretary of the Air Force.

A selection is expected by this summer.

Vandenberg Air Force Base's candidacy was strongly supported in a letter submitted Tuesday to Wilson that was signed by three Democrats — Congressman Salud Carbajal, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris, who is also a 2020 presidential hopeful.

“Vandenberg’s existing space-related missions and assets, as well as its proximity to the Space and Missile Systems Center and numerous contractors who support the nation’s national security space enterprise, including space operations, offer Space Command unique and unparalleled advantages,” read a portion of the letter.

The other finalists include Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and Buckley, Peterson and Schriever air force bases, as well as Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

The next step in the selection process will be to complete site surveys and analyze each candidate's location for its ability to meet mission requirements, capacity, environmental impact and cost criteria, according to the Air Force.

After approving the preferred location as soon as this summer, an environmental analysis will take place, the Air Force reported.

Vandenberg serves as the West Coast launch site for space missions coordinated by the Department of Defense and NASA, among others.

That fact, as well as Vandenberg’s support of space situational awareness through the Combined Space Operations Center and its work with the National Reconnaissance Office, was noted in the letter signed by Carbajal, Feinstein and Harris.

“Ultimately, 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 letter read.

The establishment of the U.S. Space Command is part of the plans announced by the Trump administration to overhaul the military as it relates to space.

Also included in those plans is the creation of a new service branch called the Space Force.

To see the letter from Carbajal, Feinstein and Harris in full, visit https://carbajal.house.gov/uploadedfiles/vandenberg_space_command_letter.pdf.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.


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