The US Space Force has granted SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, permission to lease an additional rocket launch pad at a military base in Southern California, marking the space company’s fifth launch site in the US. Under the lease agreement, SpaceX’s reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle Falcon 9 will be launched from Space Launch Complex-6 (SLC-6) at Vandenberg Space Force Base, situated just north of Los Angeles, to transport cargo into orbit. In addition to this new location, SpaceX has two other launch sites in Florida and a private Starbase complex in south Texas.
The Space Force mentioned that until last year, the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance was launching Delta IV heavy rockets from SLC-6. The southern trajectory over the Pacific Ocean makes it likely for SpaceX to launch weather-monitoring, military, or spy satellites, as these types of satellites depend on polar Earth orbits. According to VOA News, SpaceX’s lease of Space Launch Complex-6 comes as rocket companies prepare to compete for the Pentagon’s Phase 3 National Security Space Launch program, a pivotal military launch procurement effort that is expected to commence in the next year or so.