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Colorado is front-runner for Space Command home

By
Paul Brinkmann
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, from which this Delta IV rocket lifted off March 15, could become an integral part of the new Space Command. Photo by Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, from which this Delta IV rocket lifted off March 15, could become an integral part of the new Space Command. Photo by Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI | License Photo

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., March 29 (UPI) -- The new branch of the military dedicated to space is likely to be based in Colorado, at least temporarily, according to experts and an industry advocate in Florida.

The new Space Command, the Department of Defense has said, "would focus on conducting all joint space warfighting operations and ensuring the combat readiness of global forces." It also would accelerate U.S. space capabilities to address threats to U.S. satellites and other assets while deterring enemies.

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Beside Colorado, other states seeking the new space military operation include California, which has the largest aerospace economy, and Florida, which has Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch sites. Politicians in Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and Alabama also have pitched locations in their states, according to news reports.

Space Command could become a part of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, which is the home of the U.S. Air Force Space Command. But that is not to be confused with the proposed Space Force or even the U.S. Space Command, which is currently being re-established.

The Air Force Space Command, which was formed in 1982, consists of more than 26,000 space professionals, supports U.S. military operations worldwide through the use of many different types of space operations, including the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral and the 30th Space Wing at Vandenburg Air Force Base, which coordinate rocket launch activities.

Colorado took the driver's seat in the quest to host the new Space Command entity Tuesday when Trump nominated Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond to be the head of the U.S. Space Command. As the current head of the Air Force's Space Command, Raymond is based at Peterson.

"To go to the trouble of moving it to another state, new facilities -- that seems unnecessary to me," said Marco Cáceres, space analyst for the Teal Group, a defense and aerospace consultancy just outside of Washington, D.C.

"If you're just trying to make it a little more independent, my guess is you're going to want to create as little change as possible -- in terms of bricks and mortar. But that might change if a really separate entity occurs," Cáceres said.

The location might change, however, if and when President Donald Trump's proposed separate Space Force materializes. The president signed an executive order June 18, 2018, to establish the force, which would be even more independent.

The battle isn't over as far as Florida is concerned, said Dale Ketcham, vice president of government and external relations with Space Florida, the state's economic development agency for space.

"Jay Raymond is definitely the right guy for this job, and he's based in Colorado, but only because that's where the Air Force Space Command is located," Ketcham said. "Colorado is the front runner, but Florida is most assuredly making this a fight."

Ketcham said the Defense Department will conduct a thorough study on the merits of different locations.That is underway at the Pentagon.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedly is narrowing a list of people to head a separate Space Force, which he says has support in Congress, according to a story Thursday by DefenseNews.

The Defense Department has 10 combatant commands, each with a geographic or functional mission. A U.S. Space Command would become the 11th.

The United States had a separate Space Command from 1985 until 2002. It was disestablished and its functions absorbed by U.S. Strategic Command during the George W. Bush administration to free resources to create U.S. Northern Command for homeland defense.

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