California Space Authority

California's Ten Key Space Assets

California's Ten Key Space Assets


1. Satellite Manufacturing Capability

California owns approximately 50% of the global satellite market and is home to several major satellite producers including Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo; Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems of Sunnyvale; and Space Systems/Loral located in Palo Alto. Each of these assets has accumulated 40-years of experience in spacecraft innovation in civil, military and commercial satellite applications. California-built satellites contribute significantly to weather prediction, global communications, direct-to-home entertainment, environmental management, navigation, high-speed Internet, scientific exploration and national security. These satellite applications provide direct benefits to key California industries such as entertainment, information technology and agriculture.

2. Vandenberg Air Force Base

A 98,000-acre installation on the Central Coast of California, Vandenberg AFB [Fact Sheet, PDF, 156kb] is the nation's premier polar launch site, home to five launch complexes and one commercial spaceport. The base serves as Headquarters of the 14th Air Force, which is responsible for all the Air Force space programs that support the Space Commander-in-Charge, including spacelift at Vandenberg AFB and Cape Canaveral, as well as on-orbit space operations worldwide. It is also home to the 30th Space Wing, under command of the 14th Air Force, which conducts space and missile launches and operates the Western Range, a network of launch-related resources, ground stations and instrumentation supporting launch and test flights from California. VAFB is now also one of two national sites for launch of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV), a state-of-the-art family (small, medium and heavy-lift) of expendable launchers.

3. Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards AFB, in the Antelope Valley, hosts the Air Force Flight Test Center that provides the nation's premier location for aerospace research, development, test and evaluation and support of manned and unmanned aerospace vehicles. The base was the site of the famous Chuck Yeager sound-barrier-breaking flight and Edwards has supported flight-testing of every Air Force vehicle developed since. The base also hosts NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate, which oversees numerous rocket test stands. Edwards AFB supports more than 3,000 military and nearly 7500 civilian jobs in a region of the State that has not benefited from California's robust economy. In all Edwards contributes more than $1.1 billion to the State's economy.

4. Los Angeles Air Force Base/Space & Missiles Systems Center

The Los Angeles Air Force Base is a $5.5 billion operation supporting 1500 military and 2900 civilian jobs locally and more than 4200 military and 2900 civilian jobs throughout the world. The Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB)/Space & Missiles Systems Center (SMC) in El Segundo is responsible for research, development and purchase of military space systems, managing over $56 billion in space assets. Its offices of developmental planning, contract management and systems acquisition typically manage close to 20 different programs simultaneously, many in conjunction with its R & D and systems engineering partner. The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) is located near the base and works closely with the Air Force on a multitude of space-related research and evaluation projects.

5. Air Force Plant 42

A government-owned, contractor-operated facility in the Antelope Valley, Air Force Plant 42 is comprised of eight separate production sites on 5,800 acres including a shared runway complex with two 12,000-foot runways. High-speed flight test corridors at Edwards Air Force Base allow Plant 42 to fully support the newest and most advanced commercial and military aerospace systems. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SR Technics/Swiss Air and British Aerospace/Marconi/Tracor are among the world-class aerospace firms operating at Plant 42. The facility is currently home to Boeing's Shuttle refurbishment program and Lockheed Martin advanced R&D (formerly "Skunkworks"). Plant 42 is the site at which Boeing and Lockheed Martin built and tested the different versions of the Joint Strike Fighter, the worlds most advance fighter aircraft. Approximately 8,500 employees work in and around Plant 42, representing about one half billion dollars in payroll to the region and State.

6. California NASA Centers

California is host to more NASA centers than any other state and annually receives nearly 20% of NASA's total budget.

  • NASA Ames Research Center is the NASA Center of Excellence on Information Technology and the lead NASA Center on Astrobiology. The NASA Ames sphere of influence includes the Silicon Valley's IT community -- northern California world-renowned research institutions. NASA Ames' Moffett Field expansion plans include an R&D enterprise park and the California Air & Space Center, a major aerospace museum and teacher-training center.
  • The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a premier university located in Pasadena California. JPL is the lead NASA center for robotic exploration of the solar system. Most famous for the July 4, 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission, JPL's spacecraft have visited all known planets except Pluto. JPL is also responsible for managing NASA's Deep Space Network, which conducts spacecraft communications and scientific investigations.
  • The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center located in Antelope Valley is NASA's premier installation for aeronautical flight research, conducting flight research for current and future aerospace vehicles. It plays a key role in NASA's development of next-generation access-to-space and reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) and oversees an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle program.

7. World-Class Universities

  • The University of California provides an extensive network of science, research and engineering resources to California space development. Collectively, the University of California's nine campuses are the largest recipients of National Science Foundation funds. The UC, and the national labs it operates, collectively produce more research leading to patents than any other research institution in the world. Currently, the UC system is home to twenty Nobel laureates, 300 members of the National Academy of Sciences, and more award-winning scientists and researchers than any institution on the globe. The UC system graduates annually about 41,000 students including 7.5% of all of the nation's Ph.D graduates.
  • The California State University system of twenty-three campuses grants 1600 different bachelors and masters' degrees in 240 diverse subjects. The CSU also graduates more engineers than any other educational institution in the world.
  • Numerous premier private universities featuring preeminent research programs include California's Stanford University, Caltech University and the University of Southern California.

8. California Aerospace Companies and Suppliers

According to a statewide 1999 Southern California Edison study, 42,000 aerospace companies and suppliers are located in California, with an aerospace supplier presence in every one of California's legislative and congressional districts. In addition to California-based operations of all the major aerospace companies - Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, TRW, thousands of small companies help provide the engineering, design and manufactured components that fuel the global space industry. The average number of employees of California's aerospace supplier companies is estimated at 10 people, making the aerospace workforce at least a half million strong. The California aerospace-related workforce has 40 years of experience in design, engineering, spacecraft and component manufacturing, program integration, launch, on-orbit operations and space service delivery - a statewide end-to-end space capability unsurpassed anywhere in the world.


The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), moved from Virginia to San Diego in the late 1990s and serves as the national headquarters for one of three Navy hardware systems commands. A complex comprised of over 5,000 engineers, scientists, information specialists and technicians, it develops and fields all command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems needed to deploy and defend Navy forces. SPAWAR houses the Navy's Space Technology Systems program and the central Navy executive office responsible for managing space, communications and sensor systems programs.

10. Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Capabilities (RDT&E)

California leads the world in the breadth and scope of its research, development, test and evaluation resources and expertise. The state's collective RDT&E assets include globally recognized university-related programs, instrumentation and facilities, nearly 50 federal laboratories, including NASA, and extensive national security-related RDT&E sites and private-sector research and test assets.

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