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Mayor Keller, Governor Lujan Grisham Lead Albuquerque Community Effort to Land New U.S. Space Command Center

Albuquerque launches into evaluation phase in USSpaceCom selection process with unified federal delegation support
August 14, 2020

Albuquerque is one of only 31 potential locations to have passed an initial test to land a major federal facility that would add over 1,000 jobs. In May, the U.S. Air Force officially launched a competition to choose a home for the U.S. Space Command.

In June, Mayor Tim Keller and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham submitted a letter of interest proposing Albuquerque as the ideal location for the Space Command. Now, the city will receive further consideration and formal evaluation.

"New Mexico's defense and science installations as well as our emphasis on a growing aerospace sector should give us an edge for this potential economic driver," said Gov. Lujan Grisham. "Our attitude should be that we pursue every opportunity to employ New Mexicans in highly skilled and good-paying careers. That is certainly my approach. I am excited that, with the mayor's partnership, Albuquerque and our state are moving forward in this process."

“It almost goes without saying what a boost this would mean for local businesses and jobs, but more than that, a permanent U.S. Space Command headquarters in Albuquerque just makes sense. Our state is already emerging as a center of space exploration and research, so our workforce is knowledgeable and highly-skilled, and we have strong existing partnerships with Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia Labs, and Air Force Research Labs, among others,” said Mayor Keller. “Throw in our quality of life and our resilience as one of the healthiest cities in the nation in the wake of COVID-19, and I know we have a strong case to make.”

The U.S. Space Command is the newest of 11 unified commands in the Department of Defense. Hosting Space Command would add more than 1,000 federal personnel jobs as well as defense contract opportunities.

The push to bring those jobs to Albuquerque is also supported unanimously by Albuquerque’s Congressional delegation.

“Albuquerque is not only the home of some of our nation’s top space research and innovation facilities, it’s also a beautiful place to call home,” Senator Tom Udall said. “Just steps away from the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque is already the home base for countless outdoor recreation opportunities in addition to national laboratories and an Air Force base with robust space facilities. In Albuquerque, Space Command not only has an opportunity to reinvent and build the nation’s first space culture, but it would gain a home with sights, food, music and community support that is hard to find anywhere else.”

“New Mexico has a long history of leadership in both space exploration and national defense, dating back to the earliest days of the U.S. space program. New Mexico makes perfect sense right now as the best location for the new U.S. Space Command headquarters,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “New Mexico is privileged to host an extensive federal research, development and program management infrastructure focused on space along with a rapidly growing private space industry. I strongly encourage Air Force leadership to weigh these important factors as they make their decision.”

"Albuquerque is a leader in new space industries, and I’m proud the City of Albuquerque is competing to host the U.S Space Command Headquarters. With a need for economic recovery for New Mexico families, the opportunity to host the U.S Space Command Headquarters could bring more than new jobs to New Mexico. I'm prepared to continue working to support these efforts to make this possibility a reality for our state," said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who highlighted Kirtland's key role in U.S. Space Force research and development during a House Armed Service Subcommittee hearing in early March and secured further funding for space initiatives and New Mexico military families in the NDAA. 

New Mexico and Albuquerque have a deep and long history with the aerospace and directed energy sectors and possess key assets that make the city a low-cost, high-value magnet for the Space Command including:

  • A skilled and highly educated workforce – an engineering savvy workforce due to the presence of top state research and development universities;
  • Business friendly – For companies operating in the aerospace industries, there are tax deductions on gross receipts for aircraft maintenance or remodeling, aircraft manufacturing, and directed energy systems/satellites;
  • Familiarity with Federal operations – home to Kirtland Air Force Base, Air Force Research Labs, Sandia National Labs. Located within 4 hours or less proximity to Spaceport America--, White Sands Missile Range, and Los Alamos National Laboratory;
  • A robust space ecosystem – New Mexico already has presence of over 60 aerospace and directed energy companies including Boeing Co., Virgin Galactic, SolAero Technologies Corp., Fiore Industries, RS21, Decartes Labs, Lockhead Martin, Leidos, Applied Technology Associates, and others;
  • Ideal climate and weather, no natural disasters, low population and air traffic – offering minimal weather delays and an ideal testing location; and
  • Spaceport America – 1 of 12 FAA-licensed commercial launch sites with 6,000-square miles of restricted airspace and 340 days of clear weather, adjacent to the Army’s White Sands Missile Range.

Synthia Jaramillo, CABQ Economic Development Director, said, “Wherever Space Command lands will become home to about 1,400 military and civilian personnel, plus a number of well-paid contractors and industry representatives. Albuquerque is a hub for both Space Technologies and Directed Energy. Prior to the Space Command competition, my office, along with key partners, have been working hard to promote and capitalize on this competitive advantage for Albuquerque. This opportunity presents a major potential economic boost and we are prepared to prove to the Air Force why Albuquerque is best suited location.”

The Air Force plans to make a final decision in early 2021.