The fate of the headquarters for the United States’ newest military branch, the United States Space Force, remains uncertain, despite the Trumpadministration’s commitment to base it in Alabama.
While two stalwart Republican senators, Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a Mobile native and Auburn alumnus, might seem influential enough to persuade the current administration to uphold the agreement, it’s yet to be determined.
Alabama has played a significant role in America’s space and aviation pursuits since the beginning, despite the uncertain fate of the Space Force’s headquarters. Though the Wright Brothers’ famous first test flight took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, it was a former cotton plantation outside Montgomery that housed America’s first flight school, started by the Wright Brothers, which later became Maxwell Air Force Base.
Dr. Wernher Von Braun and his team at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Center designed and built the first rockets that enabled humanity to explore space. Without the Saturn V rocket developed in the Rocket City, Neil Armstrong would not have been able to take his historic one small step for man, nor would there have been a giant leap for mankind.
Alabama’s Space Legacy Hangs in the Balance as Space Force HQ Decision Looms
Alabama has produced six astronauts, including Henry Hartsfield, the commander of Space Shuttle Discovery’s maiden voyage; Jim Voss, the record holder for the longest spacewalk to date at 8 hours and 56 minutes; and Mae Carol Jemison, the first black woman both to go into space and participate in the NASA Astronaut Training Program.
Auburn University educated Ken Mattingly, who played a crucial role in ensuring the Apollo 13 astronauts made it back to Earth. The Kennedy Space Center has been led three times by directors educated in Alabama: Richard Smith, Lt. General Forrest McCartney, and James Kennedy. The Hubble Space Telescope was made possible by the leadership and direction of Jim Owen, a native of McKenzie, Alabama, and an Auburn alumnus.
Alabama’sMarshall Space Flight Center provides 47,000 jobs and a total economic output of over $8.4 billion. More than 80,000 aerospace industry workers in greater Madison County alone call Alabama home, generating hundreds of millions in tax revenue and economic impact.
The Biden administration may decide not to locate the Space Force headquarters in Alabama, but Alabamians believe that the state is where it belongs. Alabama is already an integral part of the Space Force, leading, guiding, building, developing, and dreaming of the good it can do. “You can take Space Force out of Alabama, but you can’t take Alabama out of the Space Force,” Alabamians say.