The U.S. Air Force has initiated talks with some commercial launch service providers to lease Western Range launch pads at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as space launch activity slows down, SpaceNews reported Tuesday.
“We are having a lull,” said Col. Michael Hough, commander of the Air Force 30th Space Wing and Western Range. “This is market driven. Demand for polar orbits is just not that high.” The report said launch activity at the Western Range might increase in a few years as the Air Force kicks off the second phase of the National Security Space Launch program.
Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin have emerged as potential tenants at Vandenberg as they compete for the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 contract, which is projected to be awarded in 2020. United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have launch pads at Vandenberg AFB. ULA leases Space Launch Complex 6 for its Delta 4 Heavy rocket launches, while SpaceX operates the SLC-4 site.