Coastal Commission Reviews SpaceX Request to Increase Launches from Vandenberg

Onlookers watch the SpaceX launch from State and Cota Streets in the early hours of October 21, 2023. (Photo by Kayla Mark)

SpaceX has ramped up its rocket launches from Vandenberg Space Force Base prompting concerns from the California Coastal Commission about potential environmental and community impacts.

The company, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has exceeded the agreed-upon annual launch limit of six and is now seeking approval from the commission to increase the number of launches to 36 per year at Vandenberg and conduct up to 12 landings annually at a second launch complex and an offshore Pacific Ocean landing site.

This proposal has raised environmental and community concerns, sparking ongoing discussions at the commission.

While space enthusiasts in Los Angeles and beyond may enjoy the light show, Santa Barbara County residents experience deafening booms, home and window rattling, and stressed out animals.

In a recent opinion article posted on edhat, a 35-year Lompoc resident Victoria McClain stated the SpaceX launch program may be good for parts of the community but its unreliable schedule for launches is becoming problematic, specifically for her dogs.

“Despite rearranging my schedule to be home with them, it has gotten to the point where I have to medicate them. I premedicate them for the launch and then they cancel for weather or they cancel because there is a launch at Cape Canaveral,” McClain wrote. “Last month I medicated my dogs 4 days in a row due to their scheduling ineptitude.”

SpaceX launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base on February 9, 2024 (SpaceX photo)

This past Wednesday the California Coastal Commission met in Long Beach and reviewed the request from the U.S. Space Force on behalf of the SpaceX projects because it launches equipment for the U.S. Department of Defense. The Defense Department has labeled all Vandenberg launches as federal activity, even if its solely to benefit the privately owned SpaceX.

The commission heard concerns from residents while the panel questioned whether the commission should practice more oversight over the launches. The commission’s main objective is to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the state’s coastal resources. Although, when it comes to federal agencies, the commission’s approval is not needed.

Approximately 25% of launches are for the Department of Defense, according to Vandenberg Space Force Base. The rest are largely part of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite program providing internet service to remote areas throughout the world.

Rocket launches that have shut down Jalama Beach for safety concerns, which were limited to 12 this year, exceeded the limit in the first seven months of 2023. In 2022, SpaceX alone conducted 13 launches. By 2023, they performed 28 launches before requesting the coastal commission’s permission to increase the annual launches to 36.

Col. Bryan Titus, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander stated last year the base conducted a total of 37 launches and this year could get closer to 50. He went on to say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studied potential impacts to wildlife in the area and approved up to 110 launches per year.

To mitigate the impact, SpaceX and the Defense Department proposed installing kiosks at Jalama Beach for reservation management and evacuation notifications, adding a messaging sign on the road to warn visitors of beach closures, and provide a shuttle service for evacuating beach visitors under the agreement.

The commissioners postponed the vote on approving the agreement with SpaceX for a month.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


      • Yes, but he’s not only polluting the upper atmosphere with combustion products from the LOX/kerosene engines, but with fine-grained metal particles from the disintegration of the satellites at the end of life. And you can be sure that irt wasn’t Musk himself that had anything to do with any mitigation measures.

  1. “… approved up to 110 launches per year.”

    Ugh. They’ll get whatever they want though, and we’ll have no choice.

    A friend said: “That’s just weird, treating all of Musk’s launches as “Federal activity”. The great, great majority of Falcon-9 launches are Starlink launches that are completely commercial for Musk’s privately held company. Government launches are occasional. It’s all part of the mystique that Musk has cultivated around himself.”
    I added: With the government’s complete buy-in.”

    I’m very glad we rarely get sonic booms from land returns.

  2. You haters don’t hate the tech that comes from this type of business, only the person who took away your one sided conversations on Twitter.
    CCC has no say at all and are just placating the complainers like on here.
    Pretty sure Musk pays 52,000,00$ per launch so it ain’t free.
    Would you rather have the Lying Chinese government doing it instead?
    You have to understand, it will happen like it or not by someone and it better be us.
    Elon and the future are moving past small minded people like here.
    If you have to medicate your animal I would say that animal senses you stress and hate and responds accordingly.
    If you disagree, you don’t understand dogs.
    Suck it up.

    • Musk bought his way into all of his businesses. He recognizes good ideas (sometimes), but rarely has any good ideas of his own, although he thinks he does. Just look into his history a bit and think about it before gorging on the corporate mythology.

      • Your version of “Hate” is as flawed as your arguments against him.
        I would guess you will “Hate” the World View launch happening this morning to help the whole world with navigation.
        Better quit using tech “Hater”.

        • Projection is strong in you, little marmoset. Perhaps you should try garnering some facts, instead of flying off the handle when your fantasies are challenged.

          Starlink has nothing at all to do with navigation, for example. Musk buys his way into companies and then ruins them, at least when he bothers to pay attention to them. “X” has reverted to a swamp of misinformation and bigotry.

          It’s all out there, if you look at sources with any journalistic integrity. The Daily Stormer, for example, doesn’t qualify.

City of Goleta Holds Memorable and Informative State of the City Event

Downtown Santa Barbara and Waterfront Shuttle Returns for the Summer