Even though there have been successful deployments to the polar orbit from Cape Canaveral, the US Space Force intends to maintain the Vandenberg Air Force Base as the facility for these missions. The US Space Force’s Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt applauded SpaceX for its first deployment to the polar orbit from Cape Canaveral at the meeting held on Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC).
SpaceX deployed SAOCOM 1B, an Earth observation satellite, via the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the polar orbit. DeAnna explained that this mission demonstrates SpaceX’s integrated efforts, the US Space Force, the FAA, and other space industry stakeholders. She was incredibly happy that this mission was successful without altering safety regulations.
However, this mission stirred up rumors that this space station would be taking over the polar orbit launches from the Vandenberg Air Force Base facility. The stories indicated that Vandenberg, a pioneer in such missions, would be substituted with Cape Canaveral in polar orbit deployments.
Burt publicly denounced these rumors saying that the Space Force has no intention of changing launch operations and launch resources investment to Cape Canaveral. Burt added that although SpaceX has proved the capacity of Cape Canaveral to deploy such missions, Vandenberg’s reliability and efficiency in such tasks remain top-notch.
Vandenberg is amassing more and more contracts from the commercial launch developers who want to deploy small spacecraft to the polar orbits. To mention but a few, Firefly Aerospace is expanding its Delta 2 launch ground to become a launchpad that will be deploying its space vehicles that are under development. On the other hand, Relativity Space publicized its contract with Air Force, which authorizes it to design and develop its deployment grounds at Vandenberg.
Additionally, SpaceX is not sidelining Vandenberg amid its mission from Cape Canaveral, implicating it. SpaceX came to the limelight, explaining that it also has another Falcon 9 mission to deploy the Sentinel-6 payload in a joint venture between NASA and ESA. The firm also added that it has other tasks intended to take place from the Vandenberg station. SpaceX explained that it also has employment opportunities for engineers and technicians at its facility in Vandenberg.
Nevertheless, Burt admitted that the ongoing operations from both Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Base are Space Force’s plan to expand its deployment programs. These stations’ functions are preparations they are laying to clear the old systems that are no longer secure. To sum up, Burt explained that the two stations’ tests to conduct different operations are to evaluate their capacity to launch missions without affecting each other simultaneously.