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Albuquerque Makes Short List for New U.S. Space Command Center

On the heels of Orion Group announcement, Albuquerque in top six for new federal aerospace facility

Nov. 19, 2020

Today, the federal government announced that Albuquerque has made the final six cities in consideration to be the permanent home of the new U.S. Space Command. Back in May of this year, the U.S. Air Force officially began location exploration, and shortly after, Mayor Tim Keller and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham submitted a letter of interest proposing Albuquerque as the ideal location. Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque joins Peterson AFB (CO), Patrick AFB (FL), Offutt AFB (NE), Redstone Army Airfield (AL) and Port San Antonio (TX), short list after 31 cities participated in an initial evaluation phase that lasted a few months.

The U.S. Space Command is the latest in 11 unified commands in the Department of Defense. Hosting the new federal facility would add more than 1,000 federal personnel jobs as well as defense contract opportunities. The push to bring those jobs to Albuquerque is wholly backed by the state government, and the city’s congressional delegation.

“With this opportunity and the exciting news around the Group Orion, we are on track to become home base for space,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Our state’s emergence as a center for space exploration and research means we have a highly-skilled and knowledgeable workforce ready to welcome the permanent U.S. Space Command to the Land of Enchantment. Combined with Albuquerque’s existing strong partnerships with Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia Labs, the Air Force Research labs, and our quality of life and resilience as one of the healthiest cities in the nation in the wake of COVID-19 and I know we have a good shot.”

This announcement follows the City’s recent progress in bringing Group Orion to Albuquerque, which would further expand the aerospace and tech sectors in the Duke City. Globally, the space economy is projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2045, and no city is more prepared than Albuquerque to capitalize on that growth. The unprecedented industry expansion is linked to advances in tourism and military spending – areas in which Albuquerque is well-positioned.

“We are excited to hear that the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque has been selected as one of the final candidates for the new Space Command headquarters,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Our state’s strong and growing role in space exploration, space science and national security related space matters puts in a strong position to become the home of the new Space Command.  We look forward to working with the Department of Defense in the weeks and months ahead. “

The Department of Defense will begin virtual and in-person, COVID-safe site surveys in the coming months. A preferred site, and up to three alternatives are expected to be selected in January.

“Kirtland has been the center of excellence for US military space science and technology since the inception of Space Programs in the USA, from the dawn of military space activities when the current Phillips Research Site was established in 1949 as Special Weapons Command,” says Brad Steward, Kirtland Partnership Committee chairman. “We look forward to working with the City, our partners, the selection committee, and other stakeholders on the headquarters to minimize costs to the DOD, ensure stalwart infrastructure, and meet or exceed the stringent requirements associated with our newest combatant command, US Space Command.”

“We are so excited for the Air Force selection!  Albuquerque is the a perfect place for USSPACECOM HQ because it is uniquely resourced to provide responsive support to their vital space mission”, Casey Anglada DeRaad, CEO, NewSpace New Mexico

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