Space Command HQ will remain in Colorado Springs, CO, reversing a controversial Trump administration decision to move the combatant command to Huntsville, AL.
President Joe Biden notified the Defense Department of his decision on Monday, department spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement, noting that having the headquarters in Colorado will ensure “peak readiness in the space domain.”
The Colorado delegation celebrated the announcement.
“Today’s decision restores integrity to the Pentagon’s basing process and sends a strong message that national security and the readiness of our armed forces drive our military decisions,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said in a statement. “Colorado is the rightful home for US Space Command, and our state will continue to lead America in space for years to come.”
It seems, however, that the Alabama delegation won’t go down without a fight. Rep. Dale Strong (R-AL) tweeted that “the fight for Space Command isn’t over.”
“The administration has refused to answer questions brought forth by the House Armed Service Committee’s investigation of their actions in this process,” Strong said in a statement. “If they think this will go away…they are wrong. I will ensure they have to explain their actions and answer our questions on the record.”
The backstory: The Trump administration re-established US Space Command in 2019 at its temporary home in Colorado Springs, CO. After an exhaustive selection process that included consideration of cities in 24 states, the Air Force announced in January 2021 that Redstone Army Airfield in Huntsville, AL would be the new HQ location for the combatant command.
The decision immediately set off a bitter fight between the Colorado and Alabama delegations in DC. Colorado lawmakers alleged that former President Donald Trump picked Alabama over Colorado in an attempt to reward a red state, especially after Trump told a radio host that he “single-handedly” picked Alabama.
Both the IG and GAO investigated the decision, and while the reports found flaws in the evaluation process, neither recommended overturning the decision.
Times up: Congress has been pushing the Air Force to make a final decision ASAP. Both the House and Senate NDAA include provisions that would prohibit the Air Force from spending any money on permanent or temporary HQ construction, and would also cut the secretary’s travel budget in half until the service gives lawmakers a report with a final decision.
Pros and cons: Both states have spent years arguing the benefits they could offer to Space Command. Huntsville has touted its long history in the space program dating back to Apollo, as well as its low cost of living, high quality of life, and nearby research universities.
Colorado Springs has highlighted the military infrastructure that already exists nearby, including NORAD, the National Space Defense Center, Buckley Space Force Base and the Space ISAC, in addition to its support for military families and veterans.
Many major space companies already have a footprint in both locations, including ULA and Lockheed Martin.