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San Antonio Edges Closer To Winning U.S. Space Command HQ

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. during a solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.
David Grim / Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. during a solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

Six locations have made it past the first round of cuts and are still under consideration to become the new headquarters for U.S. Space Command, the Air Force announced Thursday.

Joint Base San Antonio is one step closer to becoming the home of the U.S. Space Command, which is responsible for military operations in outer space.

The new U.S. Space Command headquarters will employ about 1,400 military and civilian workers by the time it’s fully operational, according to a May letter from Asst. Secretary of the Air Force John Henderson. The command will pull from all branches of the military, not just the Air Force.

The command’s presence will likely attract government contractors and space industry firms, which could boost a region’s economy.

Starting in May 2020, more than 50 cities across the country nominated themselves on the basis of their population size, livability and proximity to existing military infrastructure.

“Self-nominated communities from across twenty-four states were evaluated as potential locations for hosting the headquarters,” the Air Force said in a press release.

“The Department of the Air Force evaluated each location and will now conduct both virtual and on-site visits at each candidate location to assess which location is best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters. This assessment will be based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, and costs to the Department of Defense.”

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in an interview that along with its existing military ties, the city’s defense industry, public-private partnerships and supportive community make it a strong candidate.

“Given all those factors, I believe in San Antonio’s strength in this process. And I look forward to engaging in it,” he said.

“Our city is growing and changing and evolving — and so is our economy,” Nirenberg added. “And that's the kind of evolution that will make the growth of U.S. Space Command possible. It’s exciting because San Antonio has got a bright future ahead of it and so does the command.”

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn celebrated San Antonio’s position on the shortlist in a press release.

“Military City, U.S.A., is as patriotic a city as they come, with robust defense, education, training, research and cybersecurity infrastructure at the ready,” he said. “Texans have already demonstrated outsized success in the military and have led the way in space exploration. San Antonio would be a natural fit for the U.S. Space Command to take advantage of the vast resources and skilled workforce we have in the Lone Star State.”

The other finalists are Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Patrick Air Force Base, Florida; Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Air Force Space Command is provisionally headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The Air Force is expected to select the command’s new home in January. Current plans have the new headquarters opening in 2026.

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Carson Frame was Texas Public Radio's military and veterans' issues reporter from July 2017 until March 2024.