The Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett, announced on Jan. 13, that the Space Force has chosen Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location for U.S. Space Command. The installation will potentially employ up to 1,600 personnel and bring improvements to the surrounding counties.
"Today’s announcement by the Secretary of the Air Force for the U.S. Space Command to locate their headquarters on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville is a win for our region and for all of Alabama," said State Sen. Steve Livingston, who is the Alabama Space Authority chairman.
In a press release the Air Force noted that Huntsville and Redstone compared favorably against other cities the service was examining for the command location including "infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense."
"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,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.
The senator also noted that part of the Air Force's decision was based on the industry and access to technological expertise in the surrounding area.
"Alabama has always been at the forefront of the Space program and this decision has proved we will remain there," added Livingston.
According to Rep. Mo Brooks, who represents Alabama's fifth congressional district that includes Huntsville and most of Jackson County, U.S. Space Command is expected to house up to 1,400–1,600 military and civilian personal and add a number of indirect positions to support operations in the surrounding area.
"The U.S. Air Force’s decision to locate U.S. Space Command Headquarters at Redstone Arsenal is great news for the Tennessee Valley and Alabama," said Brooks.
Brooks went on to praise schools in North Alabama and their focus on STEM education — Jackson County School System recently announced a new STEM education facility in the Jackson County Industrial Park — as a contributing factor for the decision made by the Air Force.
According to the USAF, the decision is only a preliminary commitment to locate the command at Redstone Arsenal, and that the final decision will be made pending an environmental study. Until the study is complete, the Air Force has stated that there are still five backup locations in consideration.
The Air Force expects the decision to be finalized in 2023. Until that date, Colorado Springs will remain the provisional home of U.S. Space Command.
Space command is the eleventh U.S. combat command. Unlike other commands, that are typically geographically based, Space Command focuses on supporting missions in space to deter combat and combat aggression according to the Department of Defense.
U.S. Space Command was reactivated in 2019 after the U.S. Space Force created.
However, the Command can trace it roots back to 1985. When President Ronald Reagan created the command to focus on missile defense. The command was inactivated in 2002 and rolled into the U.S. Strategic Command as the DOD priorities changed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Our space program was born, raised and came to greatness from Alabama soil," said Rep. Robert Aderholt. "So, it’s only fitting that the next great incarnation of our leadership in space would be firmly planted here as well"