Elon Musk‘s SpaceX has been granted a permit to lease Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6) at U.S. Space Force’s Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
What Happened: SpaceX received permission to lease SLC-6 for Falcon rocket launches, the U.S. Space Force said in a statement on Monday. Space Launch Delta 30 (SLD 30) commander Col. Rob Long signed a statement of support for the approval on April 21.
“This is an exciting time for Vandenberg Space Force Base, our nation’s premier West Coast launch site for military, civil and commercial space operations. This agreement will add to the rich history of SLC-6 and builds on the already strong partnership with SpaceX,” said Col. Rob Long.
SLC-6 launch pad has been vacant for over seven months now since United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy launch of a spy satellite on Sept. 24, 2022- the rocket’s last liftoff from California. ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp LMT and Boeing Co BA.
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The new lease is part of the first round of launch pad allocations by SLD 30. More allocations would occur in the future, the statement added.
Why It Matters: SpaceX is eyeing a busy launch schedule. In March, CEO Elon Musk said that over 70 launches are expected for SpaceX for the remainder of 2023. SpaceX has had 224 launches in total thus far and 186 landings, as per the company website.
The new lease comes ahead of Pentagon’s Phase 3 National Security Space Launch program expected to begin in the next year or so, noted Reuters. Different aerospace companies are gearing up to compete for the watershed military launch procurement effort.
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