Palmdale vying for U.S. Space Command headquarters

An aerial view of Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. (U.S. Geological Survey photograph)

As the United States Air Force begins its search for communities to host the headquarters for the United States Space Command, the City of Palmdale in Southern California is making a strong case for its selection.

“With the rich aerospace history of Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, there is no better place for a project like this,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “Some of the most sophisticated aircraft, including the space shuttles, have been designed, built, flown, and tested here at Plant 42 and at Edwards Air Force base. Aerospace is in our DNA!”

With the required endorsement of California Governor Gavin Newsom, and strong support from State Senator Scott Wilk Assemblyman Tom Lackey, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Palmdale is now among the top communities in the running.

Wilk released a statement, as well as submitting a letter to the Pentagon supporting the city’s bid.

“Palmdale and the Antelope Valley are referred to as the Aerospace Valley for a reason,” Wilk said. “We have the talent, the knowledge and the infrastructure right at our fingertips to take our nation into the future.”

“Palmdale is home to Air Force Plant 42 and the Antelope Valley is home to not only Edwards Air Force Base, but operations of every major aerospace contractor as well. This is a good fit for the Air Force and a great fit for the AV and I am most grateful that Governor Newsom has approved our application to the program.”

To be considered for the headquarters, communities must have a population base that is within the top 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, be located within 25 miles of a military base, and have a livability index score of 50 points out of 100 or higher as determined by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute. Palmdale meets all the criteria.

Palmdale is experiencing dynamic growth in and around Air Force Plant 42. Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, NASA and Boeing are currently working on important projects such as the B-21 “Raider” Stealth Bomber, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-2 Spirit Bomber, and RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft programs. Additionally, various flight test operations are taking place at Plant 42, Edwards Air Force Base, and Mojave Air and Space Port.

“As a retired Air Force officer, I am proud our staff worked so hard on this application,” said Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy. “Palmdale and the entire Aerospace Valley would be an ideal place for the Space Force Headquarters.”

The next phase of the evaluation process will score communities based on the how they relate to the mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, and overall costs to the Air Force.

“Palmdale has a proven track record of working with aerospace, space, and defense contractors, as well as maintaining an outstanding relationship with our nation’s military,” said Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Richard Loa. “We also have a trained workforce that is prepared for and welcomes this challenge and opportunity.”

U.S. Space Command is the newest of the 11 unified commands in the Department of Defense. USSPACECOM increases the ability of the Joint Force to project power and influence, reduces decision timelines for space operations, and brings focused attention to defending U.S. interests in space. Establishing USSPACECOM is a critical step in accelerating the ability of the Joint Force to defend vital national interests and deter adversaries.

USSPACECOM is temporarily headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., with personnel and functions at Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever AFBs, Colo., Offutt AFB, Neb., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond is the commander, USSPACECOM as well as Chief of Space Operations for the United States Space Force, serving as the senior commander of all space unified military forces.

USSPACECOM is distinct from and complementary to the U.S. Space Force. As an Armed Force, the U.S. Space Force will organize, train, and equip space forces. As a Combatant Command, USSPACECOM actively employs assigned forces from each of the military services to accomplish directed missions in the space domain.

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