Community members will not see any letdown in the number of launches at Vandenberg Space Force Base in the foreseeable future, Space Launch Delta 30 Commander Col. Robert Long said Wednesday at the annual "State of Vandenberg" address and luncheon.
“We are 78% of the acreage in the entire Space Force," Long said at the event that was co-hosted by Santa Maria Valley and Lompoc chambers of commerce. The event was held at the Pacific Coast Club at the base. Long was the keynote speaker for the event and Jim Bray, the Military Affairs Committee Chairman for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, was the emcee.
Longs said a message he’d like to share with the community is how the future of Vandenberg is tied to the space industry.
“When you look at the increase of activity in the space industry as a whole, Vandenberg is going to be an integral part of that,” said Long. “So I think it’s good to recognize how important Vandenberg is to both the space industry in general and to our national security in a lot of different ways."
Long said the base's launch schedule is at its “highest tempo” in 26 years, reporting an increased demand across space launch and test customers. Long said there are over 30 expected launches set for 2023 and over 40 expected in 2024.
A few more takeaways from Long's speech were that there is potential to employ 500 plus additional personnel at the base by 2028. Long highlighted some of the challenges that have gotten in the way of growth at the base, such as the relative cost of living, access to a talented workforce and local infrastructure.
Long said modernizing base infrastructure to support all Vandenberg customers, along with creating an ecosystem that attracts talent while continuing to grow and build local and regional partnerships, is key and that VSFB has the potential for an estimated economic impact of $4.5 billion.
Bray said the potential for community growth in both commercial and military positions by Vandenberg is very important and the chambers of commerce are going to need to pay closer attention in how to collaborate and to help remove any barriers to those with potential growth.
“Vandenberg is critically important to the economy here, not only payrolls and purchasing, but we, I think, are obliged to continue to help support Vandenberg in any way we can and this is a big part of doing that," Bray said. "Getting community leaders together with command leadership is key.
“I have to say, the community support of this base, and I'm retired military myself, is just incredible. The community really supports this organization as they should."
An attendee posed a question to Long about what the benefits and costs of expansion were.
"A rising tide lifts all boats, right?" Long said. "Expanding strategically, in partnership with the local communities and leaders, and doing that in a smart way that really benefits the entire community overall is our focus."
VSFB is one of only five space force bases in the country and is the largest base by acreage in the US Space Force.