PALMDALE -- The Mojave High Desert may gain an additional set of wings in its aerospace portfolio after US Space Command announced Palmdale will be formally evaluated to host the new agency’s future permanent headquarters.
According to a news release, Palmdale received strong support from Los Angeles Fifth District Supervisor and Board Chair Kathryn Barger, as well as the necessary endorsement from Gov. Gavin Newsom. Support also came from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and 25th District Congressman Mike Garcia.
All parties noted that Palmdale was in the top group of potential locations for the new headquarters location.
The U.S. Space Force is the military branch responsible for space warfare. Originally part of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which was founded in 1982, Space Force became an independent military branch in December 2019 after President Donald Trump signed the United States Space Force Act.
The Space Force, a uniformed branch, is organized under the U.S. Air Force overseen by the secretary of the Air Force.
The high desert already holds a strong lead and history of setting records, including Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, which has hosted Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two program, NASA Armstrong Research Center, as well as Naval Air Weapons China Lake near Ridgecrest.
“Los Angeles County has greatly contributed to the advancement of the aerospace industry and space exploration through many institutions such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Edwards AFB, Los Angeles AFB, NASA facilities, JPL, Cal Tech and Air Force Plant 42, which have endeavored to support aerospace efforts,” Barger said in the news release. “In particular the Antelope Valley and the City of Palmdale have a long and impressive history of advancing a peaceful, secure, and accessible space domain.”
Garcia noted the value the headquarters could bring to the Antelope Valley.
“We proudly refer to the Antelope Valley as the ‘Aerospace Valley’ because of its long and distinguished history as the cradle and proving grounds of aerospace and space innovation. It is the home of generations of test pilots breaking the sound barrier, astronauts testing the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, and commercial aerospace companies testing privately-owned spacecraft,” Garcia said.
Garcia added Palmdale’s location provides the best option for the new headquarters.
“Palmdale, with its vast geography to expand upon, its talented workforce, existing industry expertise and its direct access to other major nodes in the space mission is the most logical choice for the permanent headquarters for the United States Space Command,” Garcia said. ‘I am confident that the Department of the Air Force and the Department of Defense will come to the right conclusion regarding the future home of the United States Space Force.”
McCarthy cited the benefit of having Space Force headquarters in proximity to other aerospace industry leaders.
“The Air Force is affirming what we know to be true – our community is a centerpiece of our nation’s space enterprise,” said McCarthy. “With the incredible innovations of our commercial space companies at the Mojave Air and Space Port and countless contributions of the AFRL Rocket Lab, China Lake, Edwards, NASA Armstrong, and Plant 42, there are many reasons why our region would be a great home for Space Force, something I have personally stressed with the Trump administration since the founding of Space Force.”
Edwards Air Force Base’s top officer also voiced his support.
“Edwards Air Force Base and Air Force Plant 42 are indescribably pleased to be a partner with the City of Palmdale and all of our communities in the larger Aerospace Valley,” said Brigadier General Matthew W. Higer, Commander, 412th Test Wing, Edwards Air Force Base. “This community – built on the spirit of innovation – makes The Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe possible. Our region, located in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties, is home to the best and brightest air and space leaders on the planet. Air Force Plant 42, already a vital part of our Nation’s critical defense industrial base, is a natural fit for Headquarters U.S. Space Command.”
The City of Palmdale Mayor, City Council and staff stand united in support for making the Aerospace Valley home to the U.S. Space Command.
“The Aerospace Valley has a storied past of seeing the development of the best air and space technology over our blue skies daily,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “Presently, engineers are designing the next generation of air superiority. As we look to the future, we believe the U.S. Space Command belongs in the Aerospace Valley.”
The next phase of the evaluation process will score communities based on how they relate to the mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, and overall costs to the Air Force.