The U.S. Space Command will be headquartered in Huntsville, Ala., it was announced Wednesday, in what sources say is a “major win” for allies of President Trump in the state after an intense lobbying battle between six finalists.
Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal has been chosen as the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Command, the Air Force announced Wednesday.
A source familiar with the situation told Fox News that it is expected to take several years to move the current temporary headquarters for Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado into the permanent location at Redstone, and expect it to cost more than $1 billion.
At that point, the source told Fox News that all U.S. military operations in space will be coordinated and run out of Space Command headquarters in Huntsville, Ala.
Huntsville was one of six finalists for the headquarters, which could bring more than 1,500 jobs with it.
The other finalists included Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico; Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska; Patrick Air Force Base in Florida; and Port San Antonio in Texas.
Pentagon officials conducted pitch meetings with each of the finalists, which included video conferences with state governors, including with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who ultimately delivered the winning pitch.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command!” Ivey tweeted Wednesday.
Sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes dynamic told Fox News that Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, who until this past week was the Senate Appropriations chairman, made the headquarters a major focus of his negotiations during the appropriations process in the Senate.
Rep. Mo Brooks, in whose district the headquarters will be located, freshman Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and Cliff Sims, a senior intelligence official and former Trump aide, also an Alabama native, all made direct pitches to the White House and the Pentagon in favor of Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal, the sources said.
A source familiar with the situation also told Fox News that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, among others, made direct pitches to the president in an attempt to win the headquarters for their states.
Huntsville is known as the “Rocket City,” and has a long history in the space industry.
The Saturn V rocket, which took the first Americans to the moon, was developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in the 1960s. The aerospace industry has remained a major component of northern Alabama’s economy in the decades since.
At this point, more than 80 nations operate in space, and 50 countries have dedicated government budgets for space.
A source familiar with the issue told Fox News that space has increasingly become a national security focus, as nations like China and Russia increase their space budgets in an attempt to secure what national security professionals call “the ultimate high ground.”
Last week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced that the Space Force will become the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community.
Ratcliffe announced the designation of the U.S. Space Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Enterprise, which is the intelligence component of the Space Force.
The Space Force intelligence element is the first new organization to join the intelligence community since 2006, when the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of National Security Intelligence joined.
The move, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will break down barriers to information-sharing and ensure that Space Force leaders have access to all intelligence that it would need to be successful.
The move also allows the intelligence community to have access to all operational space domain awareness that would help inform its analysis of threats in space.
In his remarks making the announcement, Ratcliffe said that U.S. intelligence has assessed that China is pursuing weapons capable of destroying U.S. satellites where many critical space systems reside, and deployed a ground-based missile intended to target and destroy satellites in low-earth orbit.
He also said that Russia has fielded a ground-based laser weapon designed to damage U.S. space-based optical censors.
In response, Ratcliffe announced that space will now be considered a “priority intelligence domain.”
The Space Force became the sixth branch of the U.S. military last year, with a projected size of 16,000 troops and an annual budget of $15.4 billion for now.
The branch’s responsibilities include “developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands.”
President Trump first called for the creation of the Space Force in May 2018. Trump signed an order in December 2019 to establish the branch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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