LOMPOC, Calif. - Less than a week after Vice President Mike Pence was here, showing support for the Space Mission, space tourism in Lompoc may finally lift off.
After several attempts came up short in the past, Tuesday night the Lompoc City Council unanimously agreed that this potential venture is boosting into a higher orbit.
“We are known as Rocket Town and we do not have a rocket,” said Joe Garcia of Lompoc, during public comment.
The council approved a memorandum of understanding with Pale Blue Dot Ventures for the potential sale of city-owned property to build a space-themed facility. It is in no way a done deal, rather launching to the next step in the process.
Lompoc city officials call it “momentous” and “a game-changer,” - and we’re not just talking about the rocket.
“This is a unique opportunity, it’s a unique concept. There have been several failures before and as a result, I really appreciate that about Pale Blue Dot is that they want to do their due diligence and they want to take the right amount of time to look for the right partners, to come up with the right concepts,” said Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.
The City of Lompoc has entered into an agreement with Pale Blue Dot Ventures, giving them exclusivity over the next year to explore the feasibility of turning 82-acres of city-owned property, next to and including, Ken Adams Park into a Space Center.
“Our aim right now with this project is to create a venue with the global draw. So we don’t have a small vision, we want to celebrate the science and story of space exploration. We want to deliver educational content through themed entertainment,” said Steven Franck, Pale Blue Dot Ventures Founder.
Osborne says in the past, proposals to get a similar project to launch were “over-promised” and “under-delivered.” She says while Pale Blue dot is not necessarily promising them the world, the way they are setting milestones, vetting and identifying programs is attractive. However, Lompoc’s Mayor admits that she will be critical of the process because she wants things to be done right.
“They’re saying, let us see what we can deliver, we really are interested in providing some things that can be successful and here’s what timeframe we need to explore being successful because it’s not worth getting set up into an exclusive negotiation agreement if we can’t deliver on that success,” explains Osborne.
Pale Blue Dot’s Founder says they’re not building a field of dreams or a museum but whatever it is, it has to be immersive and get kids interested in STEM. He adds that they're not trying to compete with Disneyland or Universal Studios either.
Franck and his business partner say the project could drastically boost tourism, hospitality, and jobs to the region, there’s even talk about bringing back Space Camp. Franck also notes that they're not trying to compete with Disneyland or Universal Studios either.
“If we can get, entice a family that goes to Monterey Bay Aquarium for instance and drives down the 101 and decides that they’re going to spend a day in Lompoc’s because what’s there is very interesting,” said Franck
As Pale Blue Dot figures out what they can pull off, the group itself, city officials and the community all agree that there needs to be an educational element.
“I’d love to see whoever builds this project make sure that the kids that grow up here have a chance to take classes to get certified to be able to build those satellites that are being set up,” said a Lompoc community member during public comment.
Pale Blue Dot Ventures must provide $750,000 dollars in seed funding with at least $500,000 in cash by the end of the year.