The Air Force officially announced May 14 it has narrowed the options for a new U.S. Space Command location down to six potential sites and expects to make a decision by this summer.
The six locations reside in Colorado, Alabama and California, but not in Florida despite strong lobbying from members of the Florida congressional delegation. They include: Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base and Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, Vandenberg AFB in California and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
The service will next complete site surveys and analysis of each candidate location for its ability to meet mission requirements, capacity, environmental impact and cost criteria, it said in a Tuesday release. Once the preferred location is approved over the summer, an environmental analysis will follow.
The Colorado bases already house elements of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), with Peterson AFB serving as the command’s headquarters, as well as the main location for U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
Nearby Schriever AFB is the home of the 50th Space Wing of Air Force Space Command, and supplies command and control for Department of Defense warning, navigational, and communications satellites, along with the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center. Schriever also hosts the main control point for the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Cheyenne Air Force Station is home to U.S. Strategic Command’s Missile Warning Center and houses day-to-day operations for NORAD. It is supported and operated by the 21st Space Wing, which is headquartered at Peterson. Buckley AFB, located in Aurora, Colorado, hosts the 460th Space Wing under AFSPC, and supports missions including space-based missile warning capabilities and space surveillance and communications operations.
In California, Vandenberg AFB is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing at AFSPC, and hosts missile and satellite testing along with satellite launches into polar orbit. Meanwhile, Redstone Arsenal outside Huntsville, Alabama, host multiple space and missile-related agencies, including the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, and more.
CNN first reported those six locations were on the short list in April. Since then, Florida lawmakers have engaged Pentagon and White House leaders in an attempt to get the Sunshine State on the list (Defense Daily, Feb. 19).
The White House directed the Pentagon to re-establish U.S. Space Command as a new combatant command last December (Defense Daily, Dec. 18, 2018). Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond was nominated to lead the new command, pending congressional approval.
Standing up a Space Command is one of several efforts the Defense Department has initiated to maintain U.S. dominance in the space domain. It does not require congressional approval, unlike the Space Force, which if approved would be stood up as a separate service within the Air Force by 2024 (Defense Daily, April 10).
Should a Space Force be established, it would be headquartered at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., just as the current military services are all based there.