An environmental review has found no problems with the proposed Huntsville site for a new U.S. Space Command headquarters clearing what could be the last major official hurdle for the new command to move to Alabama, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville said today.
A public comment period follows during which Colorado officials are expected to continue their fight to keep the command at its startup site of Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs.
After comments, the secretary of the air force will make the final base decision. That will likely finally choose Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal as the headquarters site, Alabama leaders say.
“The study confirms that Huntsville is the best choice for Space Command,” Tuberville told Alabama reporters in his weekly briefing. “We look forward to seeing the process (play out) in the next 30-day comment period and we look forward to Space Command coming to Huntsville and being the home to Space Command in the very near future.”
The decision will mean moving 1,800 headquarters staff and their families to Alabama, and it would mean building a new headquarters on the arsenal. The 38,000-acre base is already home to five military command headquarters and an expanding FBI management and training center.
Space Command’s mission is protecting America and its military forces and assets from attacks launched from space. Those assets include vital communications satellites in space and targets on the ground.
“I’ve got to have a decision,” Space Command leader Gen. James Dickinson said of the move in a congressional hearing earlier this year.
To justify the urgency, Dickinson referenced remarks earlier in the hearing by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville). Brooks cited an American admiral’s estimate that China’s “nuclear stockpile could double if not triple or quadruple over the next decade.”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed weaknesses in that nation’s military capabilities, and that has moved China’s growing ambitions and capabilities to the center of American military concerns.
In the original base competition, Huntsville came out on top against competing bases in 26 states. Those states were whittled down to Colorado and Alabama, and Alabama ranked higher in 11 of 21 comparisons. It has always been the Air Force’s “preferred location” compared to what the service calls “reasonable alternatives.”
The Colorado base hosting Space Command now is one of those reasonable alternatives, and its congressional representatives have furiously fought the move saying former President Trump put his finger on the scale in Huntsville’s favor. Trump has claimed credit, but reviews so far found Redstone ranking higher in key rankings.
Alabama was in the top third in the categories of available and qualified workforce, nearness to mutually supporting space organizations, room for the 464,000 square-foot headquarters and 402,000 square-foot parking lot, security, available childcare, ability to absorb headquarters workers and their families in the local transportation system, one-time infrastructure costs, overall construction costs, and cost of quarters for 600 military personnel traveling with the command.