Air Force: Huntsville chosen for Space Command HQ because it was objectively ‘best suited’ for mission
The United States Air Force on Wednesday afternoon officially announced on behalf of the Department of Defense that Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal has been selected as the preferred location for the U.S. Space Command’s permanent headquarters.
This confirms Yellowhammer News’ reporting from earlier in the day. Read that report here, which includes reactions from members of Alabama’s congressional delegation and elected officials on the state level.
The Air Force’s official announcement — made in a written press release — rebutted local, anonymously sourced reporting out of Colorado that claimed the Air Force had actually preferred Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, Space Command’s current temporary headquarters and one of the other five finalists for the permanent basing location, to Redstone. The Denver Gazette had alleged that President Donald J. Trump had overruled the Air Force and picked Redstone.
However, the Air Force’s release explained, “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 U.S. Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.”
“Huntsville compared favorably 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,” the release continued. “Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed.”
The Air Force anticipates making its decision final in spring 2023, pending the results from the required environmental impact analysis — which is normally considered a formality at the end of these types of federal basing competitions.
It is expected to take six years for the Space Command HQ to be relocated to Redstone from the temporary Colorado setup.
In a detailed statement, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle reacted to the Air Force announcement.
“The City of Huntsville, Alabama is honored that Redstone Arsenal has been named as the site for the United States Space Command,” said Battle.
“We are grateful to Senator Richard Shelby for his confidence in Huntsville… Senator Shelby has been front and center of this space effort from its inception. As one of our nation’s strongest defense advocates and most knowledgeable leaders in defense matters, Senator Shelby recognized the value of a program that would focus on space assets and threats. It is his vision to protect our country in space with a dedicated command,” the mayor continued. “We thank the U.S. Air Force site selection team for choosing Redstone Arsenal from its final six candidate cities. This group was meticulous in its review and assessment of potential sites, and they put us through the paces in their research these past two years. We will make you proud of your decision.”
Battle outlined, “The site selection team recognized what we know to be true – Huntsville is a natural choice. We are space. We do space. From the Redstone Arsenal installation to the Space and Missile defense assets that are here, Huntsville has been the leader in all [things] space since day one. From the 1950s when Explorer I went into space to the birthplace of NASA, space is in our DNA. We have built the space infrastructure and technical expertise to lead this effort.”
“The site team learned about the Redstone region’s proven track record in relocating military commands to our community. Army Aviation moved here in 1995 and Army Materiel Command moved here in 2011. Our low cost of living and doing business means the country’s tax-paying dollar will stretch much farther, providing more valuable resources for our space effort and warfighter,” he concluded. “We look forward to the partnership with U.S. Space Command and pledge to make them a success from day one.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn