San Antonio Passed Over For U.S. Space Command Headquarters
San Antonio has been passed over as the future home of U.S. Space Command. The Air Force has chosen Huntsville, Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal as its preferred location — which would mean moving the command away from its temporary location at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.
Since May, the City of San Antonio has waged a public campaign to attract the unified command, which pulls from the different military branches and oversees operations in space. When fully established, it will employ about 1,400 people and will likely attract government contractors and space industry firms.
Several San Antonio sites were brought up for the Pentagon’s consideration, including Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Brooks City Base. But Port San Antonio, formerly Kelly Air Force Base, rose to the top of the heap.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg made his case in-person during an October visit to the Pentagon. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn also threw his support behind the city’s bid, writing letters to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and President Donald Trump.
More than 50 cities across the country nominated themselves on the basis of their population size, livability and proximity to existing military infrastructure. But while San Antonio it made it into the top six, it fell short of the prize.
"San Antonio was honored to be among the finalists for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. The process enabled us to highlight our many assets and attributes including our cybersecurity, medical and training missions as well as Port San Antonio," said Mayor Nirenberg.
"By being part of this process, we ensured that we remain on the Pentagon’s short list as a welcoming well-positioned home for our existing military missions as well as future missions."
Juan Ayala, head of San Antonio’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, said the city had proven its worth to the Defense Department and distinguished itself as top-tier.
"Not only is the city very livable," Ayala explained, "but we have a lot of facilities. We have the second largest footprint with cyber. Our cost of living, our schools, our infrastructure is very much capable of taking on additional missions."
Ayala added that he has his eye on a number of opportunities within the Defense Department, including some with the Defense Health Agency and the Warrior Games.
The Secretary of the Air Force released the following statement about the decision-making process:
"The Department of the Air Force conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which of six candidate locations would be best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense. 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."
Redstone Arsenal already hosts the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, Strategic Forces Command, and Aviation and Missile Command. It's also home to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center, and is an operations site for the Missile Defense Agency. Many defense contractors and space industry firms have facilities there too, including United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin.
The Air Force has stated that Albuquerque, New Mexico; Bellevue, Nebraska; Cape Canaveral, Florida; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and San Antonio would "remain reasonable alternative locations for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters."
The Department of the Air Force plans to a final decision for the location of Space Command headquarters in spring 2023, pending the results from a required environmental impact analysis.
Current plans have the new headquarters in opening in 2026.
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