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.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

Read moreShow less

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

Read moreShow less

The Big Ten's $8B Mega Media Deal Kicks Off a New Era in Sports Streaming

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
The Big Ten's $8B Mega Media Deal Kicks Off a New Era in Sports Streaming
Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash

Hot on the heels of the shock announcement that both UCLA and USC will be exiting the Pac-12 and joining the Big Ten athletic conference, a fleet of big money media and broadcasting deals have been set.

It’s no secret that access to the lucrative Southern California ad market was a big part of the rationale behind bringing in Los Angeles’ two largest college athletic programs in the fold. With the addition of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten now has teams playing in New York, Chicago and L.A.: all three of the nation’s top media markets. (Further expansions have already been hinted at as well.)

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending