Huntsville's Rocket Park

Huntsville's Rocket Park

At risk of sounding like a pom-pom-waving cheerleader whose objectivity is imminently debatable, we’ll nonetheless ask: Why not Alabama?

Why can’t U.S. Space Command locate in Alabama?

Why shouldn’t U.S. Space Command locate in Alabama?

Bluntly, why isn’t Alabama the leading candidate to land U.S. Space Command?

Granted, Colorado and California — the other two states in the running for the new facility, according to a CNN report — are formidable. Colorado features the U.S. Air Force Academy and a collection of Air Force bases. California is California — large in political stature and economic pressure. But Alabama’s candidacy isn’t a foolish wish. Alabama’s candidacy is real, and it should position our state to strengthen its role in America’s future efforts in space.

Remember where this began — with a congressional push to create a sixth branch of the U.S. military, one dedicated solely to the protection of America’s interests in space. When he’s not stumping for President Trump’s xenophobic border wall on the Mexican border, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, has been Congress’ leading advocate for a Space Force that operates independently of the Air Force, which the congressman has consistently criticized for what he says is the branch’s reluctance to adequately protect U.S. assets in space.

In February, Trump green-lighted the Space Force but gave oversight to the Department of the Air Force, which we assume rankled Rogers’ feathers. But we also know Rogers’ role as the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee could strengthen Alabama’s position to land the U.S. Space Command.

The core of Alabama’s candidacy resides in Huntsville, which already claims Redstone Arsenal (where the Space Command and its 1,450 employees would be housed), the Army’s Space and Missile Command, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center. Additionally, north Alabama is home to two prominent rocket-builders: the Jeff Bezos-founded Blue Origin (Huntsville) and United Launch Services (Decatur). Last month, Vice President Mike Pence joined Gov. Kay Ivey in Huntsville for the National Space Council — a moon-sized feather in the state’s aerospace cap.

With this, forget Alabama geography. Huntsville isn’t in Rogers’ 3rd Congressional District, but we urge him to join with U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Doug Jones, D-Birmingham, and reel in this prestigious addition to the American space effort. Alabama makes sense.

We’re jealous, by the way. Jealous of north Alabama’s history and hard work and good fortune that in the days after World War II began Huntsville’s transformation into one of America’s top cities for space industries. How we wish northeast Alabama could have had a bit of that prosperity. But we’re also bullish on this opportunity for Alabama. If it’s good for Alabama, it’s worth cheering for.

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