The unmanned X-37B space plan is operated by the U.S. Space Command. Defense Department photo

The Southern California city of Palmdale is vying to become the headquarters site for the newly established United States Space Command.

“With the rich aerospace history of Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, there is no better place for a project like this,” Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said in a statement issued Thursday. “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!”

The city said it meets all of the criteria necessary to be considered for the Space Command headquarters, including a population base that is within the top 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, being located within 25 miles of a military base and having a livability index score of 50 points out of 100 or higher as determined by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute.

The city also noted that it is experiencing “dynamic growth” in and around United States Air Force Plant 42, and that Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, NASA and Boeing are working on projects, including 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.

Various flight test operations are also taking place at Plant 42, Edwards Air Force Base, and Mojave Air and Space Port, according to the city.

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

Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Richard Loa said the high desert city has a proven track record of working with aerospace, space and defense contractors, along with “maintaining an outstanding relationship with our nation’s military.”

“We also have a trained workforce that is prepared for and welcomes this challenge and opportunity,” he said.

The city said it has gotten the required endorsement of Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with the support of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Lancaster, and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale.

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, officials said.

At a ceremony last August, President Donald Trump said the United States Space Command will “defend America’s vital interests in space.”

“Our adversaries are weaponizing Earth’s orbits with new technology targeting American satellites that are critical to both battlefield operations and our way of life at home,” the president said then. “Our freedom to operate in space is also essential to detecting and destroying any missile launched against the United States.”

United States Space Command — the newest of 11 unified commands in the U.S. Department of Defense — is temporarily headquartered in Colorado Springs.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.