A U.S. Senator and Congressman from California have questioned the decision to exclude Vandenberg Air Force Base as a permanent location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters in an open letter sent to a top military leader on Tuesday.
In the letter sent to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Rep. Salud Carbajal and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats, sought a clarification on the selection process, specifically requesting information about how the base was evaluated.
Last year, Vandenberg Air Force Base was initially included on a list of top three finalists to host Space Command, which was formally established in December 2019.
"[We] respectfully request that you provide us with specific information about Vandenberg's scores in each of the evaluation factors and their criteria, including relative to other bases," according to the letter. "We also request that you provide precise details about how the evaluation factors and criteria changed between the selection processes in 2019 and 2020."
Air Force leaders on May 15 issued a point system explaining how the selection process works, according to Air Force Magazine.
Then, on Nov. 20, the Air Force announced that Vandenberg was eliminated as a finalist to host Space Command and issued a new list of front-runners that included bases in six other states.
After Vandenberg was cut, bases in Texas and Florida were added to the new list. Governors in those states had protested the Air Force's original choices, which did not initially include bases in their states, claiming the selection process was "unfair," according to Tuesday's letter.
For now, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado serves as Space Force's temporary location.
How the Air Force responds to Carbajal's and Feinstein's letter will dictate what they'll do next, said Feinstein spokesman Anthony Rivera-Rodriguez.
Barrett plans to respond directly to Feinstein and Carbajal, according to Sarah Fiocco, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs.
"Twenty-six states provided self-nominations to participate in the process to determine a permanent host location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters," Fiocco said. "The department narrowed down those self-nominations to the six candidate locations based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and cost to the Department of Defense."
In the letter, Feinstein and Carbajal outlined several reasons for Vandenberg's suitability for Space Command, including its proximity to the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base and its location as a defense and commercial space launch site.