U.S. Space Command headquarters will be based at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, the Air Force announced today.
“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,” a statement from the Air Force Public Affairs Office said. “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.
“Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed.”
The decision was made by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett. Gov. Kay Ivey was informed today of the selection by Bob Moriarity, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for installations.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command,” Ivey said in a statement. “Our state has long provided exceptional support for our military and their families as well as a rich and storied history when it comes to space exploration.”
Mayor Tommy Battle credited U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby for leading the way for Huntsville.
“The City of Huntsville is honored that Redstone Arsenal has been named as the site for the United States Space Command,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “We are grateful to Sen. 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, Sen. 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.”
Ivey agreed, saying multiple agencies working together show the strength and diversity of Huntsville’s work force.
“This combination only enhances the outstanding relationships we have with the 65 diverse federal agencies on Redstone Arsenal, not to mention the growing presence of the FBI and other federal installations,” Ivey said. “The bottom line is simple: the Redstone Region is the most natural choice to become home to such an important mission for our country.”
Other sites under consideration were Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Offutt AFB in Nebraska, Patrick AFB in Florida, Peterson AFB in Colorado and Port San Antonio in Texas.
This is the second significant federal command to be located in Huntsville, with the Space Command joining the FBI at Redstone Arsenal.
Championed the last four years by Shelby, chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, the FBI facility would be a “Headquarters 2” for the agency. Efforts to build a new D.C.-based headquarters failed, leading Shelby to push Congress for appropriations totaling more than $1.1 billion the last three years to facilitate the move.
“This is outstanding news, not only for our state but also for the Air Force,” Shelby said in a statement. “This long-awaited decision by the Air Force is a true testament to all that Alabama has to offer. Huntsville is the right pick for a host of reasons – our skilled workforce, proximity to supporting space entities, cost-effectiveness, and quality of life, among other things.
“I am thrilled that the Air Force has chosen Redstone and look forward to the vast economic impact this will have on Alabama and the benefits this will bring to the Air Force.”
The Redstone Regional Alliance and the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce released a joint statement commending the selection.
“We are confident that the Air Force has made the correct decision to base the Space Command Headquarters at Redstone Arsenal,” the statement said. “The Redstone site offers the Department of Defense the lowest cost option with superior regional capabilities, capacity and quality of life. We look forward to working with Space Command to make this transition as seamless as possible.
“Our region has successfully executed similar moves on several previous occasions and that experience will greatly inform our efforts. We greatly appreciate the support that Sen. Shelby and his staff have provided as well as the efforts of the state and regional team members who have provided their critical support.”
Battle said the Air Force site-selection team “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.
“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 thing 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.
“We look forward to the partnership with U.S. Space Command and pledge to make them a success from day one.”
Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said the strength of the regional partnership was a key to the decision.
“Once again, the selection of Redstone Arsenal for US Space Command demonstrates what regional partnerships can do when we collectively work together to reach our goals,” he said. “I congratulate all of our local, state, and federal leaders from Alabama, particularly Senator Richard Shelby for his leadership and work to bring Space Command to Alabama, along with our neighbors in Tennessee that have worked together to prove Redstone Arsenal is the true and best choice for the United States Space Command Headquarters.”