WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence announced Dec. 9 that Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base are being renamed as Space Force installations. 

Pence made the announcement at a ceremony held on the tarmac at Cape Canaveral where he landed on Air Force Two. The two installations are being renamed Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. 

“Today we make history with the first two installations in the history of the United States Space Force to bear the name of this new branch of the service,” Pence said. “It is a great day for our military. It is a great day for Florida, it is a great day for America.”

The re-designation of Cape Canaveral and Patrick affects the names only and falls short of officially making the facilities Space Force installations. “Today, we start a new era at both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base aligning the installation names with their critical missions,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond said Dec. 9 at the ceremony.

Patrick and Cape Canaveral are two among several space-focused Air Force bases that Space Force leaders proposed renaming. When the Space Force was signed into law Dec. 20, 2019, Raymond said there were plans to rename the “principal Air Force bases that house space units to be space bases.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 — which the House passed on Tuesday — has language that limits the Pentagon’s authority to transfer military installations to the Space Force. 

“A military installation (whether or not under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Air Force) may not be transferred to the jurisdiction or command of the Space Force until the Secretary of the Air Force briefs the congressional defense committees on the results of a business case analysis,” the NDAA says.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...