The Rocket City is one of six finalists that could be named the headquarters of the new United States Space Command later this week.
The Pentagon will choose between Huntsville, four cities in Colorado or one in California with the announcement expected to take place either in Colorado Springs, Colorado or at the White House on Thursday.
The U.S. Space Command would be what the Pentagon calls a Unified Combatant Command and would report to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. Space command will integrate the intelligence community with the Department of Defense to ensure effective space operations.
The U.S. Space Force, a separate entity, would be above the Space Command and could eventually become another branch of the military.
Despite the fact that Colorado seems to have an inside track with four potential sites, Huntsville isn’t out of the mix. With Huntsville’s space skills and technology organizations already located at Redstone Arsenal, the city offers an affordable one-stop shop to develop and control critical space assets with more than 65,000 people already working in aerospace and defense in the area. Add to that NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, companies in Cummings Research Park and United Launch Alliance in nearby Decatur, the innovation centers for technology are here.
Redstone’s footprint isn’t to be discounted either as a Federal Center of Excellence. It is home to the Army Aviation and Missile Command, the Missile Defense Agency, the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, the Army Space & Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command and teams working on future programs for the Army Futures Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency Missile and Space Intelligence Center.
Nearby in Decatur, United Launch Alliance assembles rockets for military satellite launches and recently attracted Blue Origin and Aerojet Rocketdyne rocket engine plants, working on nuclear propulsion for spaceships.
The U.S. Space Command is projected to have approximately 1,450 people working there. Advocates say bringing the command to Alabama will make the entire Southeast stronger magnets for future space-related investments. And, Alabama’s cost of living is far lower than Colorado or California.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking at the National Space Council in Virginia last week, announced that Four Star Air Force General John Raymond will be the U.S. Space Command’s first leader. Raymond has ties to Alabama through Maxwell Air Force Base where he attended Squadron Officer School in 1990, Air Command and Staff College in 1997, Combined Force Air Component Commander Course and Joint Flag Office Warfighting Course in 2012.