Space Force flag unveiled at White House
The Space Force flag is unveiled at the White House in May. Defense Department photo

The Air Force is formally evaluating the city of Palmdale in northern Los Angeles County to host the future permanent headquarters for the U.S. Space Command and its new U.S. Space Force, officials said Sunday.

Kathryn Barger, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, submitted the city’s nomination on Tuesday.

“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 United States Air Force Plant 42, which have endeavored to support aerospace efforts,” she wrote. “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.”

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, Palmdale officials said.

“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,” said Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the area.

“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. 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,” Garcia added.

Palmdale’s bid was also drawing support from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader,, and Brigadier Gen. Matthew W. Higer, commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base.

“Edwards Air Force Base and Air Force Plant 42 (a classified aircraft manufacturing plant owned by the USAF in the Antelope Valley) are indescribably pleased to be a partner with the City of Palmdale and all of our communities in the larger Aerospace Valley,” Higer said. “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.”

Colorado Springs remains the location for the provisional headquarters for U.S. Space Command until a permanent headquarters location is selected and facilities are ready in approximately six years.

Air Force officials said they anticipate a decision on the permanent location by early 2021.

— City News Service

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