President-elect Joe Biden urged to reverse Space Command decision
HUNTSVILLE – The greater Huntsville area celebrated the news Wednesday the new U.S. Space Command headquarters will be in Huntsville, but the celebration may be short-lived.
Colorado officials are crying foul over the selection, saying the decision was politically motivated by outgoing President Donald Trump. They are asking President-elect Joe Biden to reverse the selection and keep it in their state. Space Command is provisionally located in Colorado.
The announcement by the U.S. Air Force to place the headquarters in Huntsville means an important boost to the regional economy. The Air Force has previously said the headquarters would bring about 1,400 jobs.
The state was selected over five others competing for the project after a two-year selection process. The Air Force picked Albuquerque, New Mexico; Bellevue, Nebraska; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and San Antonio, Texas, as alternative locations. They were chosen from amongst 24 states that were evaluated as potential locations for hosting the headquarters.
“This move threatens jobs, could cause serious economic damage, and upend the lives of hundreds of military and civilian families that were counting on U.S Space Command staying at home in Colorado Springs as well as harm military readiness,” Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera said in a statement.
In a letter, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado urged President-elect Joe Biden to reverse the decision upon taking office, saying moving Space Command from Colorado would “damage America’s national security” at a time when Russia and China are actively competing with the U.S.’s space capabilities.
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, an appointee of President Donald Trump, announced the decision to place the Command in Huntsville days before leaving office. It’s a move several local and state officials say is not poltically motivated, but one that makes sense.
“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,” U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said in a statement.
“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,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement. “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.”
A statement from the Air Force said it based its selection 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. Additionally, Redstone Arsenal offered a facility to support the headquarters, at no cost, while the permanent facility is being constructed,” the statement said.
Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said the decision to locate the Command in Huntsville was made after an “objective process by the Department of Defense, and in the best interest of national security, thoroughly and objectively reviewed workforce, transportation, force protection, and quality of life.”
“Redstone Arsenal is the true and best choice for the United States Space Command Headquarters,” Strong 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,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said.
The Department of the Air Force said the decision to move to Huntsville will become final pending the results from the required environmental impact analysis. That is expected in the spring of 2023. The headquarters will remain in Colorado until then.