The future home to the United Space Command Headquarters has been limited to six locations. These include: Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Patrick AFB, Florida; Peterson AFB, Colorado; Port San Antonio, Texas; and Redstone Army Airfield, Alabama.
Space Command Base Selection Criteria
The six bases were selected from the self-nominated communities across 24 states that were evaluated as potential locations to host the headquarters. The Department of the Air Force will now evaluate each of the locations, and that will include conducting both virtual and on-site visits at each base to assess which location is best suited to hosting the U.S. Space Command Headquarters.
The final assessment will be based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support, and costs to the Department of Defense (DoD). The Department of the Air Force anticipates selecting the preferred location for the Space Command HQ early next year. In the interim, Peterson AFB will continue to serve as the provisional location for the U.S. Space Command Headquarters until the permanent location is selected, and facilities are ready to support the mission.
Future Space Command Headquarters List Narrowed Down to Six States
The United States Space Command was established in August 2019 as the military’s 11th unified combatant command. The future headquarters will have approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel working at the base.
Located in the high desert of north-central New Mexico, Kirtland AFB occupies a majority of southeast Albuquerque. About 500,000 people live in the area and many are employed in high-tech jobs as the region is home to the Sandia National Laboratories and the Air Force Research Laboratories. It is also home to the Air Force Material Command’s Nuclear Weapons Center (NWC).
The base is the largest installation in the Air Force Global Strike Command and is currently the sixth largest in the Air Force. The base occupies more than 51,000 acres and currently employs more than 23,000 people including more than 4,200 active duty and 1,000 Guard, as well as 3,200 part-time Reserve personnel.
Kirtland AFB’s economic impact to the Albuquerque was in excess of $2.7 billion in 2000.
Originally named Fort Crook, Offutt AFB was renamed in honor of World War I pilot and Omaha native 1st Lt. Jarvis Offutt in 1924. Located south of Omaha, it was at this AFB during the Second World War that the B-29 bombers Enola Gay and Bockscar were constructed.
For 40 years Offutt served as the headquarters of the former Strategic Air Command. On September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush conducted one of the first major strategy sessions in response to the terrorist attacks from a bunker at the base. The base is current home of the Strategic Command (STRATCOM), and prior to the August 2018 stand-up of SPACECOM, STRATCOM was responsible for U.S. military space operations. According to some sources the base also has a large number of empty office space that is currently available.
The base employees nearly 8,000 military personnel, and is home to 6,200 of their dependents. The base also has 2,700 DoD civilians and another 1,100 civilians who currently work on the base. About 826,000 people live in the Omaha metro area.
Named in honor of Major General Mason Patrick, USAAC – Patrick AFB is already an Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) base, and is home to the 45th Space Wing (45 SW) and currently controls and operates the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and the Eastern Range on of the two U.S. military launch sites.
Located between Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach, the base is also home to the Air Force Technical Applications Center and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). Total employment at the base is 10,400 while there are 13,100 military, dependents, civilian employees, and contractors housed on the base.
According to fact sheet data from the base’s website, the total economic impact of Patrick AFB is $1.12 billion, and value of jobs created was $242 million this year. Some 4,800 indirect jobs were created by the base.
As the provisional HQ, Peterson AFB could have an edge in the selection process. Located adjacent to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, it is home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Space Force‘s 21st Space Wing, elements of the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center, and is currently United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) headquarters.
Peterson AFB was developed during the Second World War as an air support base for the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson. As it is primarily devoted to space work, it will be renamed Peterson Space Force Base (SFB) whether it is selected as the United States Space Command or not.
Currently about 5,200 active duty personnel live on the base, along with 6,700 dependents. In total, including contractors and civilian employees, some 16,300 people now live on Peterson AFB.
An inside joke has been that Peterson’s biggest advantage is the fact that so many of the Air Force’s brass own homes in Colorado Springs.
The site of former Kelly Air Force Base, Texas – it features a 1,900 acre (7.7 square kilometer) campus that is now the single-largest commercial/industrial property in Bexar County. Currently about 80 of the tenants at Port San Antonio employ around 14,000 people and many of those are businesses engaged in advanced technology, aerospace and aircraft maintenance and completion, business support, logistics, and IT/cybersecurity.
The port has been regarded as a notable example of a U.S. military base redevelopment. The campus is accessible by air, rail and truck within a Foreign-Trade Zone.
Port San Antonio is near the active Joint Base San Antonio, home to the 24th Air Force, which specializes in cyber operations.
While seen by some as a long shot, Redstone could actually have an edge. It is located just six miles southwest of Huntsville – and was originally constructed for munitions testing for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Army Air Forces. The Redstone Arsenal currently supports the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, NASA, as well as other U.S. government aviation and space activities.
The current population within a 40-mile radius includes some 850 active duty military personnel, and more than 35,500 DoD civilian and contractor employees. The city of Huntsville, which is Alabama’s third largest city is home to nearly 195,000 people.
One other advantage that Redstone may have over the other locations is that the current head of SPACECOM is Gen. James Dickson, who is also the senior Air Defense Artillery Officer in the U.S Army. The Army connection could be important, but then again Dickinson is a native of Estes Park, Colorado and a graduate of Colorado State University. So perhaps a return to the Rockies is just as likely.