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Agreement Unites Parties in Boosting Commercial Space Operations in California

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 6, 2020
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Vandenberg Air Force Base

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., August 5, 2020 (Deloitte PR) — Leaders from the State of California, REACH, the 30th Space Wing, Cal Poly State University and Deloitte today announced a commitment to develop a thriving spaceport at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the surrounding area. According to the memorandum of understanding, the parties will develop a master plan that identifies the required infrastructure, human capital development, governance and financing necessary to support the United States Space Force mission and position California as a global leader in the future of the commercial space industry.

Chris Dombrowski, Acting Director of GO-Biz, said: “California has been at the forefront of the aerospace industry for more than a century. This MOU cements that leadership and serves as a critical investment in California’s innovative economy as we work to safely recover from the COVID-19 induced recession. This cross-sector partnership will bring quality jobs to the central part of our state with Vandenberg Air Force Base serving as a thriving spaceport and the nation once again watching California.”

Market attractiveness matrix for major U.S. government operated spaceports (Credit: Deloitte)

The memorandum is a key part of a larger strategy for economic development in the Central Coast region, built in collaboration with the governor’s Regions Rise Together initiative, REACH and Deloitte.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the State of California to drive the space industry into the next century,” said Josh Nisbet, a managing director at Deloitte Consulting LLP, who leads its work for the state. “The foresight of leaders in California and in our national security agencies has put the Central Coast and Vandenberg Air Force Base in position to become a world-class spaceport and center of excellence in a quickly evolving market. Deloitte is thrilled to be supporting this journey.”

The U.S. government, in its first National Space Strategy, identifies the space industry as a top priority and highlights dynamic partnerships between government and commercial partners as essential to our economic prosperity, national security and scientific knowledge.

Col. Anthony Mastalir, 30th Space Wing Commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base, said: “Space is critical to national security, and the National Defense Strategy  provides a very clear direction to restore our competitive edge in the re-emerging power competition to maintain space superiority. We rely on robust collaboration with our industry partners not only to provide assured access to space but also to maximize our range capacity and move forward into the range of the future.”

The region boasts several attributes that make it an ideal location for commercial space operations, a sector that is likely to lead high-quality job growth over the coming decades. Vandenberg already maintains active launch capabilities and favorable geography, and Cal Poly produces world-class engineering and science talent.

“The potential for the commercial space industry to provide significant jobs and economic impact to not only the Central Coast, but the entire state of California, make it worth pursuing aggressively. Through diverse partnerships and collaboration, we will ensure the Central Coast of California is the launchpad for the next frontier of commercial space,” said Melissa James, CEO of REACH.

The commercial space activities centered on the base could support a larger industry, and parties envision a robust cluster of space-related activities taking root in the region, with sustained presence of companies across the ecosystem from manufacturing and launch to maintenance and support and enabling human spaceflight for the first time in California.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong said: “With its strong tradition of Learn by Doing, Cal Poly is pleased to work with other institutions in the region to play an instrumental role not only in developing the workforce of the future but also in spurring innovation and teaming with industry to foster growth and reach new milestones. We’re excited to play a key role in supporting the possibilities this landmark agreement holds.”

Find the full memorandum of understanding, first chapter of the VAFB Master Plan and fact sheet here.


The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) serves as the State of California’s leader for job growth and economic development efforts. GO-Biz offers a range of services to business owners including: attraction, retention and expansion services, site selection, permit streamlining, clearing of regulatory hurdles, small business assistance, international trade development, assistance with state government, and much more. For more information visit,


The 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg’s host unit, supports West Coast launch activities for the Air Force, Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, national programs and various private industry contractors. The Wing supports the processing and launch of a variety of expendable vehicles including Atlas V, Delta IV, Delta II, Pegasus, Minotaur, Taurus and Falcon. The Wing also supports Force Development and Evaluation of all intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as Missile Defense Agency test and operations.


REACH is an economic impact organization created to ensure the Central Coast of California is a place where current and future generations have the opportunity to thrive. With a mission to increase economic prosperity through big thinking, bold action and regional collaboration, REACH serves the Central Coast Region, that includes San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.


Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose 22,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives. For more information, visit


Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including nearly 90% of the Fortune 500® and more than 7,000 private companies. Our people work across the industry sectors that drive and shape today’s marketplace — delivering measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to see challenges as opportunities to transform and thrive, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. Deloitte is proud to be part of the largest global professional services network serving our clients in the markets that are most important to them. Now celebrating 175 years of service, our network of member firms spans more than 150 countries and territories. Learn how Deloitte’s more than 312,000 people worldwide make an impact that matters at

7 responses to “Agreement Unites Parties in Boosting Commercial Space Operations in California”

  1. duheagle says:

    I guess the locusts in the CA state legislature finally figured out that their proposed rocket launch tax isn’t going to bring in any revenue if no one does any launches from CA. CA state government efforts to “help” the launch industry could easily wind up being the key to success for the Kodiak spaceport in AK.

    • P.K. Sink says:

      Funny. While consultants consult in California, SX successfully returns astronauts from the ISS to the Gulf Coast, flies their Starship test vehicle for the first time in Texas, and continues to break their own first stage re-flight records in Florida. California…get a clue.

      • duheagle says:

        Not likely to happen. The CA state government has stood by while many of its once-major industrial sectors have decamped – in toto or in large part – elsewhere.

    • windbourne says:

      funny thing is, that so many CONgress critters screwed with the federal taxes, and yet, do not understand that they are pushing businesses overseas with their massive tax cuts for doing that.

      If they had a clue, they would simplify taxes by :
      1) removing all tax breaks, write-offs, etc.
      2) change corp tax to zero it if work is done in America, while charging say 10 tax on gross sales (not profits).
      3) change personal tax to combine all $ obtained, then tax on a simple progressive tax rate. Start with 1% on everything above livable scale (i.e. 25-30K ) and then say 25-30% on everything over 5M.

  2. Kenneth_Brown says:

    To make VAFB interesting to more commercial companies, they’ll have to set fire to a large amount of red tape. The military has their own ways of doing things that makes no sense that is different from the non-sensical ways that the private sector has. The best approach would be to split the base to have military and non-miltary space launch areas that are all managed by the Air Force but the non-military section wouldn’t have the same hassles and no defense sensitive activities. This would let commercial companies bring new hires and contractors to launch sites without the requirement of submitting names far in advance for a background check. It would also allow materials to come and go with fewer headaches.

  3. windbourne says:

    Isn’t CA, the state that put a large tax on any launches from there?

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