Padilla Applauds Regional Partnership to Boost California’s Central Coast Space Ecosystem

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) applauded the expansion of a regional partnership working to support the growing Central Coast space industry at and around Vandenberg Space Force Base, bringing new collaboration on innovation, housing, and workforce development. The Cities of Lompoc and Santa Maria, UC Santa Barbara, Allan Hancock College and Cuesta College have signed on to the landmark agreement forged in 2020 between Space Launch Delta 30, REACH, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), Cal Poly, Deloitte, and Santa Barbara County.

“California has long led the way in advancing our nation’s aerospace ecosystem,” said Senator Padilla. “I’m glad to see the expansion of this critical partnership between government, educational institutions, and industry, which will help expand our space workforce pipeline, accelerate innovation, and boost the Central Coast’s economy and California as a whole.”

The expansion comes on the heels of growing momentum for West Coast space launch, including:

  • Development of the Commercial Space Master Plan, outlining key steps in growing the space industry on the Central Coast.
  • Establishment of a state-led space industry task force — a key recommendation of the Master Plan.  
  • Launches nearly doubling last year and on track to double again this year, and companies such as SpaceX, Phantom Space and Relativity Space expanding their presence at the base.
  • Plans for a commercial Mission Development Zone with launch control, administrative, payload processing facilities and other components moving forward.
  • Projected growth at the base, with the potential for 500 new personnel by 2028 — not including the possibility of being named STARCOM HQ, a decision expected this year.
  • U.S. Space Force plans to spend $1 billion over the next 5 years upgrading the launch ranges at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg to ultimately support 300 launches annually.

Last year, Padilla met with senior Department of Defense officials and servicemembers at Vandenberg Space Force Base working to protect U.S. interests in space. Padilla highlighted the critical contributions that Vandenberg has made to U.S. assured access to space and California’s rich aerospace ecosystem. Vandenberg is already a major economic driver in the region, supporting16,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.5 billion in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, according to a 2021 study commissioned by REACH — with projections to grow to 18,000 jobs and $6 billion in impact by 2030.


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