© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The SpaceX logo and a silhouette of Elon Musk are seen in this illustration taken Dec. 19, 2022. Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
by Joey Roulette
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Space Force said on Monday that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was cleared to launch a mission at a California facility. The military base leases a second rocket launch site in preparation for the company’s fifth launch site in the United States.
Under the lease, SpaceX will launch its workhorse Falcon rocket from Space Launch Complex-6 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, a city north of Los Angeles. A military launch site, the company operates another launch pad. It has two others in Florida, and its private Starbase site is in South Texas.
The Space Force issued a statement late Monday saying that Space Launch Delta 30 Commander Col. Rob Long signed a letter Friday supporting the decision. The statement did not mention the length of the SpaceX lease.
The new launch site vacated last year by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed joint venture, gives SpaceX more room to handle its increasingly busy commercial, government and Internal satellite launch program.
Space Force Base Vandenberg allows launches from a southern orbit over the Pacific Ocean, which is often used for weather monitoring, military or spy satellites that typically rely on polar orbits.
SpaceX’s award of Space Launch Complex-6 comes as rocket companies prepare to compete for Phase III of the Pentagon’s National Security Space Launch Program, a watershed military launch procurement effort expected to Will start in the next year or so.