Six Air Force Bases in Running for Space Command Headquarters: Report

Team Vandenberg supported the successful launch of 10 Iridium satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4, Oct. 9, at 5:37 a.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ian Dudley)
Team Vandenberg supported the successful launch of 10 Iridium satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4, Oct. 9, at 5:37 a.m. PDT Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

The Air Force is narrowing down the best location to house the Defense Department's newest unified combatant command, and many of the bases in top contention are in Colorado, according to a new CNN report.

Air Force officials are still reviewing installations to house U.S. Space Command, which officials have called a stepping stone to creating a U.S. Space Force.

"No candidate basing lists have been sent to the secretary of the Air Force for consideration," service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement Monday.

Citing an Air Force Space Command memorandum it obtained, CNN reported last week that the Air Force may choose from four Colorado locations, including Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Peterson Air Force Base, and Schriever Air Force Base. Other options are the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Responding to the report, a Defense Department official said some bases have been identified, but no decision has been made.

RELATED: Space Force | Military.com

It is unclear whether Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will make the decision or whether it will fall to her successor.

Last month, Wilson announced she will step down as the 24th Air Force secretary to become the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso; the UT System Board of Regents confirmed Wilson for the position with a unanimous vote last week.

She will resign as secretary effective May 31. A successor has not been named.

In December, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum creating USSPACECOM.

Following the announcement, Republican Reps. Michael Waltz and Bill Posey, members of the House Armed Services Committee, and 11 other Florida lawmakers sent a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, saying their state is "the epicenter of America's space program," lobbying for USSPACECOM to be located in Florida.

Earlier this month, Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency, met to devise a plan to lobby the administration on headquartering the combatant command in the state, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, "is not shy in utilizing his relationship with the president and the administration to make sure Florida is named the home to Space Command," Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, the board's chair, said during a meeting April 1, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis in February sent a letter to the president asking him to locate USSPACECOM at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

The Space Command memo reported by CNN did not list any Florida installations as possible locations.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon last month announced the Trump administration's pick to lead the new command.

Trump has nominated Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to lead U.S. Space Command. If confirmed, Raymond would hold both positions, at least for the time being.

Space policy and budget experts have said it would be wise to streamline operations at Peterson because it already hosts a robust space mission for AFSPC.

Peterson "is where USSPACECOM was originally headquartered," said Brian Weeden, director or program planning and technical adviser for national and international space security for the Secure World Foundation. Weeden was referring to the first combatant command for space, founded in 1985. It disbanded in 2002.

"I don't think there's any single base that is 100% a good fit" to house USSPACECOM in its entirety, Weeden told Military.com on Monday. "But there are a couple that make more sense than the others."

Other than Peterson, Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado "is where most of the command and control for military satellites is done from," he said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Show Full Article