US Space Force Establishes Tech and Acquisition Arm in Los Angeles

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

US Space Force Establishes Tech and Acquisition Arm in Los Angeles
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

In a major win for Southern California's aerospace industry, the U.S. Space Force will establish its acquisitions and technology division in the Los Angeles area this summer.

The move, observers said, cements the region – home to SpaceX and Virgin Orbit – as a major force while raising the profile for a myriad of local startups, as the government looks to private industry to bolster the next generation of space travel.

"Southern California — and South Bay in particular — is experiencing its biggest tech renaissance since the Cold War, with record-setting venture investments generating hundreds of new businesses, with over 25 aerospace unicorns operating today," said Van Espahbodi, the co-founder and managing partner of Starburst Aerospace, an accelerator that partners with Raytheon and other big players in the industry. "It's no surprise the formal standing up of Space Systems Command acknowledges the strength and leadership of our region."

The Los Angeles Air Force Base's Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo will become the headquarters of the planned division called the Space Systems Command. The center will be responsible for identifying, prototyping and fielding innovative, space-based solutions to support and meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy, according to the Space Force.

"The heart of technology innovation within the space industry takes place right here in El Segundo, so it comes as no surprise that Space Systems Command has selected our community as its headquarters," said Melanie Stricklan, co-founder and CEO of El Segundo-based Slingshot Aerospace, in a statement.

Slingshot Aerospace has worked closely with the Space and Missiles System Center over the last several years to create technologies that promote space sustainability in order to protect our way of life, she said. Other local companies like SpaceX — which has several contracts with the agency — also have standing relationships.

Los Angeles' aerospace history stretches back to the 1920s, with its peak around World War II. Today, more than 25 aerospace companies — including Rocket Lab, Slingshot Aerospace, Relativity and Virgin Orbit — have established headquarters in the Los Angeles region.

The Space Systems Command is one of three major commands under the U.S. Space Force. It will generate additional missions for the base, including oversight for launch operations out of Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral. It will oversee efforts to develop, acquire, launch and sustain military space systems.

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the California Aerospace Caucus, said the Pentagon's decision reaffirms Southern California's role as an aerospace hub.

"Southern California was already leading the way on aerospace and space innovation, and establishing the Space Systems Command at L.A. AFB will position our region for further growth," LIeu said.

Lieu said he, along with California Republican Congressman Ken Calvert, had requested the Pentagon to consider Los Angeles for the Space Systems Command's home.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said his administration also pushed for the new command center.

"This is a critical investment in California's vital aerospace and defense industries, and it represents a slew of new good-paying jobs as we continue to rebuild our economy better than before," Newsom said in a statement.

In 2003, Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space and Missile Systems Center narrowly escaped closure during a round of military base realignment and closures. The base was spared after a group of politicians and business leaders lobbied to save it.

Judy Kruger, senior director of strategic initiatives at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, said it's too early to tell what the move will mean as far as jobs or procurement opportunities for the region.

"But right now whenever we can position ourselves as leaders in the area of aerospace, it presents us well. It focuses on our core ecosystem here in Los Angeles, our history of space and aerospace," she said. And it's about good paying jobs of the future, she said.

Before the base's Space and Missile Systems Center will be re-designated, Biden will nominate a U.S. Space Force three-star general officer of the SSC, who must be confirmed by the Senate.

In 2019, the Trump administration created the Space Force, the newest branch of the armed services since 1947. It is one of the most visible Trump-era actions that is supported by President Joe Biden.

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SXSW Transportation Event Shows the EV Industry Still Doesn’t Have Answers to It’s Most Pressing Questions

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

SXSW Transportation Event Shows the EV Industry Still Doesn’t Have Answers to It’s Most Pressing Questions

It’s day two of the transportation events at SXSW and I don’t really get it. It’s my first time at the tech conference here in Austin, but so far, these panels don’t seem like they’re worth the carbon emissions of the plane ride to get here.

There’s a lot of talk about how autonomous vehicles are going to change the world.

There’s a lot of talk about how EVs are the future.

While I personally believe those are pretty safe predictions, there’s been a conspicuous lack of discussion about how we’ll get there and what it will cost.

Yesterday afternoon, Kyle Vogt, CEO of autonomous vehicle company Cruise, spoke with General Motors CEO Mary Barra. If you didn’t know any better, you’d have left that panel thinking that Cruise’s coming fleet of driverless cars could have the climate crisis pretty much wrapped up by 2025.

I’m not trying to discount how impressive the company’s tech is or how autonomous vehicles will revolutionize society. But scientists have shown that rideshare services increase congestion, and autonomous vehicles could potentially double carbon emissions in the United States, if the tech is implemented the wrong way. While Vogt may be keenly aware of these pitfalls, the discussion never ventured anywhere near the edge of these waters.

I also have yet to hear a substantive conversation about how we’re going to source the astronomical amounts of lithium and other metals necessary to power this transition. I haven’t heard anyone talk about how to decarbonize the mining process. Nobody has dared to bring up the millions of rideshare workers who will lose their jobs as autonomous vehicles expand their reach, save for when Vogt pointed out that the human was the most expensive part of Uber and Lyft’s business model.

These are, admittedly, hard questions, and I certainly don’t have answers for them. But it would be both more interesting and somewhat reassuring to watch these industry leaders debate or at least acknowledge them. I’m not asking for a 4-hour lecture on the optimal way to distribute federal funding, but my kingdom for a panel moderator who asks “Where do you see the biggest challenges?” or “What are you the most worried about?” or “How do we make sure this technology doesn’t worsen the inequality in this country?”

In a nearly full session this morning Shailen Bhatt, the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, joked that his time slot on Transforming America’s Highways and Transportation Infrastructure was competing against Ryan Gosling interviewing Keanu Reeves.

Which is to say the people attending these panels care about transportation and emissions and infrastructure. They aren’t dumb and their time is valuable. They recognize the potential afforded by these technologies and the opportunity in Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan. I think we’re ready for a slightly more nuanced discussion here.

FaZe Clan is Finally Embracing Women’s Esports Over a Decade After its Founding

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

FaZe Clan is Finally Embracing Women’s Esports Over a Decade After its Founding
Photo: FaZe Clan

FaZe Clan signed its first all-female esports team last week, and the five-woman team will begin competing this year in a spinoff of Riot Games’ “Valorant” pro league.

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