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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 15th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 33

Carbajal tours Raytheon, talks defense budget

By William D'Urso

Nestled in a corner just north of the Lompoc Airport, Raytheon’s satellite sensors get assembled in cleanrooms before taking frequent trips to space on military hardware.

U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal suits up to tour Raytheon’s Lompoc facility, including cleanrooms where satellite sensors get assembled.

U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) toured the factory on Oct. 9, donning a hairnet and white cleanroom suit. He was there to look at the company’s “wafers,” or discs that contain state-of-the-art sensors, many of which are designed for satellites. They’re made in tightly controlled clean labs full of engineers clad in white outfits known as “bunny suits.” 

Carbajal was there not just as the district congressman but in his capacity as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He also has a seat at the table as discussions develop over the defense budget. He’ll help draft the National Defense Authorization Act, which will fund this fiscal year’s defense projects. Right now, he said, the budget is still coming together.

“We’re in the process of conferring, negotiating the final outcome of that bill so it can go to the president’s desk,” Carbajal said.

But he’s also looking at what would benefit Lompoc. He’s already visited Raytheon facilities in Goleta and El Segundo. He said the visit would help him “make sure our district is getting its fair share of resources.”

Raytheon purchased the 48,000 square-foot building near Lompoc in 2003 and invested $30 million into it in 2010. Roy Azevedo, the president of the company’s Space and Airborne Systems division, was there for a word with Carbajal and to answer questions. He said his divisions, which include Lompoc, do about $7 billion in revenue. The defense contractor employs 67,000 people nationwide and pulls in $27 billion in sales.

The company also has done commercial work, providing chips to satellites supporting Google Earth. But that’s not where Azevedo sees the company’s space systems division growing.

“We’ve structured this factory here for defense,” he said.

Azevedo said they’re interested in ramping up employment between Goleta and Lompoc with jobs that could average $100,000 a year. 

Located less than 10 miles from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the factory has no direct connection with satellite launches, Azevedo said, but he noted that satellites with Raytheon sensors do sometimes launch from there. 

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