Alabama's "Rocket City" is top choice for U.S. Space Command
The city of Huntsville bested five other candidates as the preferred headquarters location of the U.S. Space Command. Barbara Barrett, the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, made the announcement yesterday, moving Alabama’s “Rocket City” one step closer to securing the country’s space defense force as its newest resident.
Air Force officials evaluated six sites via virtual and in-person visits on the basis of factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, cost, and community support. Albuquerque, New Mexico; Bellevue, Nebraska; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and San Antonio, Texas were also considered as potential preferred locations for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. However, Huntsville’s unique character afforded the city a considerable edge.
“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 Air Force said in a statement.
Northern Alabama has long been home to national space and defense programs. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the agency’s largest facility in the U.S., is located in Huntsville. The Rocket City is also home to Redstone Arsenal, a U.S. Army missile defense post that originally manufactured chemical weapons during World War II
The decision to move the U.S. Space Command is not yet set in stone, however. The Department of the Air Force does not expect to announce the final location for the command center until environmental impact analyses for the site have been completed. Air Force officials expect to make a final determination in early 2023.