Where Will The New Space Force Command Be Based?
Cities And Counties Fight For 15,000 Jobs
By Lamont Colucci
May 14, 2019
With some 15,000 jobs and more than $72 million in initial funding at stake, cities and counties are jockeying to be the new home of the U.S. Space Command.
The U.S. Space Force Command will be the 11th combatant command, alongside such well-known units as Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, which oversees all special forces operations around the globe, and Central Command, also in Tampa, which directs all American forces in the Middle East. Combatant Commands, unlike other military units, direct war-fighting operations as opposed to supply or training commands.
Deciding where to put the Space Force Command remains an open question among Pentagon and congressional decision makers. Some criteria have been developed by the U.S. Air Force, which was previously responsible for space operations. Those Air Force benchmarks centered having an airfield capable of handling the C-17 Globemaster, with a maximum takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds, and related logistical capabilities. This eliminates a larger number of potential sites while putting in play places in California, Wyoming, Alabama and elsewhere.
Florida and Texas congressional delegations pointed out that their states enjoyed a long history with space flight and ought to be considered.
The U.S. Air Force runway requirements are not the only criteria that will be used to select the Space Force base. “The ultimate decision for where U.S. Space Command will be located will be based on factors such as operational requirements, security requirements, and staff synchronization to ensure the new command can efficiently, effectively, and successfully execute its mission,” according to Joint Force Space Component Command Public Affairs Office statement.
The U.S. Air Force announced possible candidates for the primary base of Space Command on May 14, including: Buckley Air Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Schriever Air Base and Peterson Air Base in Colorado, Vandenberg Air Base in California, and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
Notably absent from the list are Florida and Texas. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio said that the Florida Space Coast is a viable option. Floridians felt betrayed when they did not make the cut. “We were at a loss to know what changed,” said Space Florida’s Chief of Strategic Alliances Dale Ketcham.”
The Lone Star State makes a similar case. Rick Tumlinson, Founding Partner of SpaceFund, makes a dynamic argument of basing it in Texas where Houston has an already established “space culture,” an existing airbase, and home of NASA Mission Control. Tumlinson contends that the Space Force will ultimately need a military academy of its own and that Houston has much to offer along those lines.
Cost-savings is driving much of the decisionmaking. Using an existing base, with equipment installed and qualified runway, would save time and money.
Cost-cutting has its risks, space advocates say. Space Command should not simply be an acceptable fit, but a place that will stir the imagination, make the greatest mark, and most importantly, they say, broadcast to our potential adversaries that the sky is not the limit when it comes to space.