COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Huntsville, Ala., known as the Rocket City, is the presumed new home of Space Command.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey says she found out Army Installation Redstone Arsenal is the "preferred choice" to be Headquarters for the U.S. Space command Wednesday morning. In a press release, she stated she received a call from the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force to notify her about the decision.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle attributed low cost of living, a high number of engineers per capita, and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Headquarters in the city as being factors behind this choice.
"I would hope that no one would attempt to weigh politics into this decision. This decision needs to be on its merits. What is the best thing for the United States of America?" said Battle. "The best thing for the United States of America for U.S. Space Command be located in a place where we do space ... where NASA has a facility. Where missile defense has a facility."
However, the U.S. Air Force says the final decision won't be made until 2023 after environmental testing is completed. This could be a potential problem for the city, Redstone Arsenal is currently listed on the EPA's superfund site list.
Redstone Arsenal was established as a manufacturing site for chemical weapons during WWII. It's also where the Federal Bureau of Investigation has its second headquarters.
Colorado Springs was a top contender for housing the U.S. Space Command Headquarters. Mayor John Suthers criticized the presumptive decision.
"Given the criteria they gave us, I am deeply disappointed and very surprised that the Air Force would choose any other location," he said. "And frankly, my concern is that politics played a significant role in this result."
Still, Huntsville's mayor said he feels like the selection process was fair.
"We have more degreed professionals and engineers than anywhere in the U.S. When you have that workforce that works in the aerospace industry, works in the missile industry, has put rockets that have sent man into deep space. When you have all of that and you put all of that together, you've got the workforce that can make work for Space Command, that can make space command a success," Battle said.
If Space Command stays in Huntsville, it's expected to bring at least 1,400 new jobs.