Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal was selected out of six candidates, including the Space Command’s temporary home in Colorado, prompting calls from the latter state’s politicians for the incoming Biden administration to rethink the decision.
Albuquerque, New Mexico; Bellevue, Nebraska; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and San Antonio, Texas are set to remain ‘reasonable alternative locations’ for the Command’s new HQ.
Praising the decision, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement: “I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command!
“Our state has long provided exceptional support to our military and their families as well as a rich and storied history when it comes to space exploration. This combination only enhances the outstanding relationships we have with the other 65 diverse federal agencies on Redstone Arsenal, not to mention the growing presence of the FBI and other federal installations.”
A final decision on the location will be made in 2023 following environmental impact analysis.
A statement carried on the Space Command website reads: “The Department of the Air Force conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which of six candidate locations would be best suited to host the US Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.
“Huntsville compared favourably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, quality schools, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs. Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed.”
Ivey added: “The bottom line is simple; the Redstone Region is the most natural choice to become home to such an important mission for our country.”
US Space Command is the US’ newest combatant command following its establishment in 2019. The standing of the Space Command was followed by the creation of the US Space Force, the eighth and newest branch of the US Uniformed Services.
Beating Space Command’s temporary home of Colorado, Huntsville – nicknamed ‘Rocket City’ – has a long history of rocket and missile development and was where former German rocket scientists including former Wernher von Braun worked.
In a letter, Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn said: “I am disappointed by the horrendous decision to rip US Space Command out of its home in Colorado Springs and move it to a new location. There’s no way around it: relocating SPACECOM will materially damage our national security.
“As we speak, our near-peer adversaries, Russia and China, are actively working to defeat our space capabilities. Moving a critical institution like Space Command for political reasons unrelated to national security would be foolish at the best of times.”
Colorado was the home of the original US Space Command from 1985 to 2002, and the new Space Command has been located in the state since its formation.
Lamborn added: “In the midst of the ongoing great power competition between the U.S. and our allies against the forces of tyranny and absolutism represented by the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin, arbitrarily shuffling SPACECOM around like a political trophy would prove disastrous.
“This decision was not based on what is best for America’s national interests. For the good of our nation, I will fight this proposed move. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate who I believe will be equally disturbed with this disruption to a critical national security mission.”
Lamborn also published a letter sent to President-elect Biden urging him to revisit the decision once he takes office after 20 January.