Sometimes flights to space require a more robust police presence on the ground.
An agreement approved by the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized the Kern County Sheriff's Office to provide additional law enforcement services to the Mojave Air and Space Port during a key period in the facility's history.
"Mojave Air and Space Port will be conducting commercial passenger space test flights...and events from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022. These test flights and events are expected to have a large number of guests and celebrities in attendance, which will require a law enforcement presence," the sheriff's office said in a memo to supervisors dated July 30.
The extra service is required about four times a year, when Virgin Galactic, a commercial space company located at the space port in eastern Kern County, holds special events or test flights, said Angela Monroe, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.
The agreement ensures that the department will be reimbursed at actual cost, with a cap of $10,000.
Multiple attempts to reach Spaceport CEO Karina Drees for comment this week were unsuccessful.
"This is not new for us," Monroe said of the sheriff's office's service at the desert facility. Other short- and long-term agreements have been approved in past years to provide an increased law enforcement presence during special events at the space port.
Indeed, the sheriff's office has assisted Virgin Galactic on multiple occasions when the commercial space company has performed test flights of SpaceShip2 in Mojave.
In appreciation for these efforts, Galactic presented the department with a framed American flag that was flown into space during a test flight on Feb. 22.
But now, Virgin Galactic finds itself in a particularly crucial period as it plans a number of test flights leading up to its goal of rocketing paying clients to suborbital space for a cool $250,000 a pop.
In December the company achieved the first human spaceflight from American soil since the final Space Shuttle Mission in 2011. It was the first time a crewed vehicle built for commercial passenger service reached space, Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said in a tweet.
In February, Galactic did it again with three on board.
But many more test flights will be necessary before Branson's space company begins flying its more than 600 future astronauts to suborbital space from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, N.M. Space is defined as 50 miles or higher above the earth.
Celebrities who have reportedly been identified as being Galactic ticket holders include Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, Brad Pitt and others.
Branson has said he's dreamed of becoming an astronaut since he was a little boy watching the moon landings — and that exploring space will provide humans with a new perspective of our own planet and will bring us all together to protect it.
With a little help from the Kern County Sheriff's office.