February 11, 2019

Maintaining the Antelope Valley’s edge as a leader in aerospace

Assemblyman Tom Lackey
California Assembly 36th District

The Antelope Valley holds the much deserved title of Aerospace Valley. Our area is home to a tremendous history of technological breakthroughs in air and space. None of that would be possible without the amazing men and women who work in our research and production facilities.

It is vital for us to establish the California Institute for Aerospace to preserve an educated workforce that powers our local economy.

Antelope Valley is uniquely positioned as a key hub of California’s highly successful aerospace industry. The region is home to the Air Force Test Center and Air Force Rocket Laboratory, NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, the Mojave Air and Space Port, Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale and the Naval Air Weapons Station — China Lake.

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity recently soared 51 miles above the Antelope Valley, taking off and landing in Mojave. That achievement officially transformed the aircraft into a spacecraft.

In Palmdale, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have groundbreaking projects to improve our nation’s defense capabilities.

Northrop’s B-21 Raider is in development at Plant 42.

The F-35 Lightning is one of the world’s most capable military aircraft, and Palmdale employees play a big role in its construction.

Throughout our area, government agencies, small businesses and industry giants work together to provide unique research opportunities that will attract students to what the region has to offer.

That is why we need to establish the California Institute for Aerospace. The institute will be a world-class learning and research center training local talent while attracting brilliant minds from around the world.

Because this is so important, Senator Wilk and I collaborated with the Air Force Research Lab, Antelope Valley College and other stakeholders to make the Aerospace Institute a reality.

The Air Force Research Lab was able to secure federal funding and we are currently recruiting a program coordinator, the last step before we announce the official founding of the California Institute for Aerospace.

The Institute will ensure that California’s aerospace industry continues to thrive and cement the Antelope Valley’s position as the world’s premier aerospace region. We will be able to recruit and retain a skilled workforce and create unique research opportunities and partnerships between government, industry and academics.

I am also a proud coauthor of AB 245, which will establish the California Aerospace and Aviation Commission. The commission will include diverse members from local government, business, aviation, labor and education. It will serve as a central point of contact for the aerospace and aviation industries and support the health and competitiveness of these businesses in California.

Our region has great promise. The renewed excitement of space exploration positions our valley at the forefront of this growing interest.

In all, tens of thousands of Antelope Valley residents play a part in our nation’s defense and space exploration future.

The California Institute for Aerospace will keep advancing the momentum and energy created by the nation’s desires to be the world’s leader in space exploration and harness that fire here in Aerospace Valley.

Editor’s Note: Assemblyman Lackey represents the 36th Assembly District, which contains portions of Kern, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, including the communities of Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Quartz Hill, Acton, Boron, Littlerock, Pearblossom, Mojave, Rosamond, California City, Phelan and Piñon Hills.

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