Carbajal, Feinstein send letter to Air Force about Space Command decision
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are asking the U.S. Air Force why it rejected Vandenberg Air Force Base as the future headquarters of Space Command.
Originally, Vandenberg was one of three finalists for the site, but the Air Force ultimately excluded the Santa Barbara County base from consideration.
On Tuesday, Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, and Sen. Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.
“As we highlighted in our August 2020 letter to you, we continue to believe that Vandenberg’s existing space-related missions and assets, along with its proximity to the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, would offer Space Command unique and unparalleled advantages,” Rep. Carbajal and Sen. Feinstein wrote Ms. Barrett.
“As the West Coast defense and commercial space launch site, Vandenberg already offers a highly-qualified workforce for aerospace engineering, and the local community is eager to welcome Space Command to the area,” the lawmakers said in their letter.
“In 2019, the Air Force selected Vandenberg as one of three finalist locations, in addition to sites in Alabama and Colorado,” Rep. Carbajal and Sen. Feinstein wrote.
“We understand that the governors of Texas and Florida protested the Air Force’s decision because they claimed the selection process was unfair, prompting a new evaluation this year of bases nationwide,” the lawmakers noted. “During that process, Vandenberg was cut from the list of six finalist locations, but sites in Alabama and Colorado remain in contention while bases in Texas and Florida were added to the list, as well as bases in New Mexico and Nebraska.”
Rep. Carbajal and Sen. Feinstein requested that the Air Force provide Vandenberg’s scores for evaluation factors and how the scores compared to other bases.
“We also request that you provide precise details about how the evaluation factors and criteria changed between the selection processes in 2019 and 2020,” they wrote.
Vandenberg has served as the launch site for everything from satellites to tests for the Falcon 9, the reusable rocket now being used to launch SpaceX on its missions to the International Space Station.
Experts see Vandenberg’s development as a thriving spaceport and headquarters for Space Command as a significant boost to an economy hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe in totality, that it would be on the order of thousands of (new) jobs, both locally and statewide,” Andrew Hackleman, vice president of Regional Economic Action Coalition, told the News-Press in August.
Mr. Hackleman and other officials were excited at that time about the possible headquarters, which seemed like a natural to them given Vandenberg’s history with space.
“Vandenberg is space country,” an upbeat Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg, told the News-Press and other media in August.
During a virtual news conference, Col. Mastalir noted that the criteria for the final selection for Space Command includes factors such as the cost of living and quality of schools.