PALMDALE — Playing on its long aerospace history, the city of Palmdale has submitted its application to play host to the US Space Command headquarters, making Aerospace Valley home to the Space Force.
“What better avenue than our 600 acres right next to (Air Force) Plant 42 to help support the future of aerospace than the Aerospace Valley?” City Manager J.J. Murphy said Wednesday in announcing the city’s bid.
The Space Force was formed as the nation’s sixth military branch in December. Its headquarters will be in the Pentagon, as with every other military branch. The Space Command, however, is one of the military’s 11 combatant commands operating within the services.
The Air Force, which oversees the new Space Force, reopened its search for a Space Command headquarters in May, seeking applications from communities that meet specific criteria. Until a new headquarters is opened, Space Command will continue to be housed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
To be considered, communities must have a population base that is within the top 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, be located within 25 miles of a military base, and have a livability index score of at least 50 points out of 100 as determined by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute.
Palmdale meets all the criteria.
“I congratulate staff for putting a competitive package together,” Murphy said. Palmdale’s bid has the endorsement of Gov. Gavin Newsom and support from state Sen. Scott Wilk, Assemblyman Tom Lackey and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“Palmdale and the Antelope Valley are referred to as the Aerospace Valley for a reason. We have the talent, the knowledge and the infrastructure right at our fingertips to take our nation into the future,” Wilk said in support of Palmdale’s application. “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.”
Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale is home to major defense contractors including Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, Northrop Grumman and Boeing. It is under the command of Edwards Air Force Base, itself home to the Air Force Test Center and a legacy of cutting edge aerospace development.
“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,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said.
Palmdale is experiencing dynamic growth in and around Plant 42, with projects such as the B-21 Raider stealth bomber, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft programs.
Add to these programs the development at Edwards AFB and civilian space companies nearby at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
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,” Mayor Pro Tem Richard Loa said. “We also have a trained workforce that is prepared for and welcomes this challenge and opportunity.”