Politics

Trump Brag About Choosing Alabama for Space Command Could Help Colorado

Will Colorado get to keep Space Command?
Will Colorado get to keep Space Command? Photo-illustration by Getty Images/Nataniil and Jay Vollmar
The State of Colorado just got more ammo for its battle to become the permanent home of Space Command.

During an August 20 appearance on Rick and Bubba, an Alabama-based talk show, former president Donald Trump said that he unilaterally made the call to choose Huntsville, Alabama, as the permanent home of Space Command.

"I single-handedly said, 'Let's go to Alabama,'" Trump pronounced. The federal government had claimed that the Trump administration's decision to base Space Command in Alabama, announced in the waning days of his presidency, was based on an objective evaluation. Colorado officials quickly rejected that claim, however, arguing that Trump had rejected this state because it went Democratic in the November election, and because he'd wanted to reward a state with voters and politicians who had been friendly toward him.

Trump's comment came at an opportune time for advocates of locating Space Command, which is responsible for unifying all military operations in space, permanently in Colorado Springs, where it is temporarily housed right now.

From August 23 through 26, the Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on space exploration and space-related industries, is hosting its annual Space Symposium at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

This week, Colorado space boosters will be rubbing shoulders with key space-industry players, such as the heads of both Space Command and Space Force, other high-ranking government officials, and top Boeing and Lockheed Martin executives. And given the massive economic victory that landing a permanent Space Command HQ would be for Colorado, advocates of this state are sure to bring up Trump's admission at the symposium.

“As we’ve said all along, Space Command’s basing decision needs to be determined by merit, not politics. Now that the former president is confirming what we’ve been saying all along, we again urge President Biden to overturn that decision now," says Reggie Ash, chief defense development officer at the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, who has been leading the city’s efforts to maintain Space Command at its temporary headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base. "Keeping Space Command in Colorado Springs avoids disrupting operations and interfering with their critical national security mission. Staying in Colorado Springs is the most cost-effective, least risky, and overall best choice for the mission. Space Command remaining at Peterson SFB is best for American taxpayers.”

And now is a good time to push that premise. "I think that would be apparent to anybody that comes here. It's not just a conference location," Ash adds. "You see that the industry is all here right now....Lockheed Martin building those satellites here in the state of Colorado. They're being launched by United Launch Alliance rockets that are built here and they're controlled from Schriever Air Force Station."

Both the Government Accountability Office and the Inspector General for the Department of Defense are currently investigating whether the decision to choose Huntsville as the permanent headquarters of Space Command was done in an appropriate manner. Meanwhile, the entire Colorado congressional delegation has come together to lobby for Space Command to stay in Colorado.

As boosters have noted in their campaign, Colorado is the historic home of Space Command. From 1985 to 2002, the first version of Space Command was based at Peterson, before it was shut down by the George W. Bush administration. Add to that a robust aerospace economy, well-developed infrastructure and communications networks and a strong military presence, and Colorado Springs seemed like a solid bet to become the permanent home of Space Command once the Trump administration revived the command.

Until the November election, and Trump's decision to "go to Alabama!"
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.