DENVER, Colo. –– Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced that Colorado Springs is among the U.S. Air Force’s finalists for the U.S. Space Command headquarters permanent basing decision. Space Command is provisionally headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Colorado Springs for the next six years until the Air Force establishes a permanent base. The other finalists include Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Patrick AFB in Brevard County, Florida; Offutt AFB in Bellevue, Nebraska; Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama; and Joint Base San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas.
“Congratulations to Colorado Springs on being named a finalist to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. I also offer my gratitude and congratulations to all those across Colorado, especially the Aurora community, who have worked tirelessly for the last year to reinforce Colorado’s identity as the epicenter of the nation’s national security space mission,” said Bennet. “With our infrastructure, innovation, work force, and commitment to the space mission, there is no better permanent home for U.S. Space Command than Colorado. I look forward to the final selection in the near future.”
In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which became law in August 2018, Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish U.S. Space Command under U.S. Strategic Command. In December 2018, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create Space Command separate from U.S. Strategic Command, and officially announced the creation of Space Command in August 2019. In May, the Air Force announced an open bidding process to select the permanent location of the Space Command headquarters. In June, Colorado Springs and Aurora self-nominated to become the permanent home to Space Command.
In 2019, Bennet and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) led the Colorado Delegation in writing to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and writing to the then-Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan and then-Commander of U.S. Space Command General Jay Raymond to emphasize what Colorado offers as a candidate to be the permanent home of U.S. Space Command. Bennet and Gardner also published an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Gazette advocating for the basing decision. Following the White House’s official announcement of the creation of U.S. Space Command in August 2019, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation reiterated their call for the headquarters to be reestablished in Colorado. In the original basing decision process, of the six possible locations named by the Air Force, four were in Colorado: Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB, Buckley AFB, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. In the fall of 2019, the Air Force named Peterson AFB the temporary home to U.S. Space Command.
In December 2019, Bennet met with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and spoke with the Commander of U.S. Space Command General John W. Raymond to discuss the importance of a focus on national security space and to double down on his support for basing Space Command in Colorado.
In May 2020, the Air Force announced a new basing decision process that will evaluate self-nominating communities, like Aurora and Colorado Springs, on their ties to the military space mission, existing infrastructure capacity, community support, and cost to the Air Force. The Air Force also announced Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs would remain the provisional location of the command until 2026. Later in May, Bennet and Gardner wrote a letter to Polis calling for him to support military spouse licensure reciprocity in the state, which Polis then signed into law in July 2020. Spouse licensure reciprocity is a component of the Air Force’s evaluation of each nominating state’s support for military families. Following passage of Colorado House Bill 20-1326, the entire Colorado Congressional Delegation, Polis, and Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera wrote to then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Barrett to highlight the new Colorado law and further demonstrate that Colorado is the best state to serve as the permanent home of the U.S. Space Command.
In June 2020, Bennet welcomed Polis’ endorsement of the self-nomination of both the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities to compete to be the permanent home for U.S. Space Command. At the end of August 2020, the Aurora and Colorado Springs communities submitted their questionnaire responses to the Department of the Air Force completing the next step in the basing process.
In August 2020, Bennet visited Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB for an update on the U.S. Space Command mission and stand up. He also met with General Dickinson, who assumed command in August, and learned about advancements at the National Space Defense Center.
In October 2020, Bennet visited Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, and Maxar Technologies in Westminster, Colorado, two Colorado-based companies leading the way on civilian, military, and intelligence space technology innovation, and contributing to Colorado’s second to none space-aligned workforce. In October, Bennet also visited National Reconnaissance Office’s Aerospace Data Facility Colorado (ADF-C) at Buckley AFB. The team at the facility provided an update on the critical intelligence missions that call Colorado home.
Today, the Air Force announced the six communities who will receive a site visits in December: Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Patrick AFB in Brevard County, Florida; Offutt AFB in Sarpy County, Nebraska; Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama; and Joint Base San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. The Air Force has said the final basing decision will be announced by January 2021.
Bennet will continue to work with Polis, the entire Colorado Delegation, the Colorado Springs community, and the many other Colorado communities who are critical to the national security space mission to demonstrate Colorado’s unique position as the hub of the nation’s military and intelligence space missions, robust aerospace and defense industry ecosystem, strong STEM education pipelines, and commitment to supporting veterans and military families. Bennet believes that Colorado is the only choice for the permanent headquarters of this critical mission.