COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Air Force is recommending that US Space Command be permanently located at the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, ending a competition for the headquarters between multiple regions, including Colorado Springs.
KRDO confirmed the news Wednesday via a statement from Alabama's Governor Kay Ivey. A statement released by the Air Force Wednesday afternoon confirmed that Redstone Arsenal was the "preferred location" for the new HQ, however, it added that a final decision for the location is anticipated in Spring 2023.
The news, first reported by AL.com, was confirmed by at least four sources. The city of Colorado Springs also confirmed the decision and held a news conference to announce the next steps. Watch below:
The Air Force announced in November that Colorado Springs was in the top six finalists, and Mayor John Suthers has continually said that the Springs is the "ideal location to serve as the permanent home of US Space Command."
"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."
A high-level source in Washington tells KRDO that President Donald Trump asked to see the Space Command report last week. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett came into the office with one packet: Colorado Springs' file.
Trump then asked to bring in the Alabama file and said that he wanted Space Command to be in Alabama because he wanted the state's Congressional legislators on his side amid the ongoing impeachment following a riot at the US Capitol last week, according to the source.
The source told KRDO it is possible for the Space Command decision to be overturned, which Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper are working on.
Gov. Jared Polis said the report that the decision was only overruled for politically motivated reasons "are deeply concerning."
"This move threatens jobs, could cause serious economic damage, and upend the lives of hundreds of military and civilian families that were counting on U.S Space Command staying at home in Colorado Springs as well as harm military readiness," Polis said. "It would negatively impact the mission which Colorado Springs has been flawlessly executing, ensuring our national security in the space domain. This misguided decision would cost American taxpayers potentially billions of dollars and would be fiscally irresponsible if it is allowed to stand. We pledge to work with our federal delegation to restore integrity to the process as it unfolds. The work of so many partners in Colorado Springs and across the state has been critical to the shared effort to keep U.S. Space Command in Colorado, and we are grateful for their partnership.”
However, it'll be a while before the move takes place. The Air Force selected Peterson Air Force Base as the provisional HQ for Space Command for six years back in May of 2020.
Suthers and the Colorado Springs Chamber and Economic Development Commission hoped that landing the headquarters in Colorado Springs would bring thousands of jobs and an additional boost to the local economy.
But Chamber president and CEO Dirk Draper said the departure of Space Command could mean a loss of 1,400 jobs and $450 million in economic impact to the area.
Suthers, the Chamber and EDC will work with local leaders to encourage President-elect Joe Biden's administration to accept the initial recommendation to keep Space Command in Colorado Springs.
"I am extremely disappointed by this development,” said Mayor Suthers. “I have said from the beginning, that if this was a merit decision, Colorado Springs would prevail. It is not in the interest of national security and the American taxpayer to move Space Command. We made an extremely strong case for the city, and we had every indication that the Air Force was impressed by the community commitments we made in support of Space Command's future. My concern is that politics played a significant role in this result. It would be wholly appropriate, and we would request, that Congress and the Biden administration direct the U.S. Air Force to provide full details regarding the recommendations it made and make public the role President Trump played in this decision."
The mayor says local leaders also will file a request through the Freedom of Information Act, to learn more details about the selection process.
"What we want to know is -- and we don't want to see doctored documents -- we want to see the original reports, what the recommendation was, and we want to know what the direction of the president of the United States was, in response to that," he said.
Air Force officials had toured local facilities both virtually and in-person within the past month as part of a circuit to all of the finalists.
That was the second phase of the selection process, which began after Florida -- another state with strong ties to Trump -- asked to be considered as a possible Space Command location.
In that last phase, the number of cities was reduced from 60 to 6.
Just a day before the announcement, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) had issued a statement on Tuesday during a Space Foundation event pushing for a decision on the location, saying that the announcement had been delayed with no explanation.
On Wednesday, Lamborn issued a statement calling the decision "horrendous."
"I am disappointed by the horrendous decision to rip U.S. Space Command out of its home in Colorado Springs and move it to a new location," Rep. Lamborn said. "There’s no way around it: relocating SPACECOM will materially damage our national security. As we speak, our near-peer adversaries, Russia and China, are actively working to defeat our space capabilities. Moving a critical institution like Space Command for political reasons unrelated to national security would be foolish at the best of times. In the midst of the ongoing great power competition between the U.S. and our allies against the forces of tyranny and absolutism represented by the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin, arbitrarily shuffling SPACECOM around like a political trophy would prove disastrous. This decision was not based on what is best for America’s national interests. For the good of our nation, I will fight this proposed move. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate who I believe will be equally disturbed with this disruption to a critical national security mission.”
This is a developing story, check back for updates.