Florida lawmakers push to bring Space Force headquarters to Florida

by | Apr 28, 2022

 

 

A bipartisan group of Floridian lawmakers including Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio as well as 23 Representatives such as Stephanie Murphy, Charlie Crist, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz is pushing to bring the future U.S. Space Coast training headquarters to Florida’s Space Coast.

The politicians penned a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall requesting that STARCOM, the Space Training and Readiness Command, be based at Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Brevard County, near Melbourne and Cocoa Beach

The Air Force announced early in April that Patrick Space Force was 1 of 6 candidates in the running to become a headquarters location. The other relocation candidates feature 2 California bases — Los Angeles Air Force Base and Vandenburg Space Force Base — as well as 3 Colorado bases: Buckley Space Force Base, Schriever Space Force Base, and Peterson Space Force Base.

The STARCOM base has been temporarily located in Colorado Springs, Colorado since the Space Force’s establishment in 2019. The 3-year span since the founding of the Space Force and the decision of where to locate its training headquarters transpired due to a several-year-long delay following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Florida is the most military-friendly state in the Union,” reads the letter. “Our state proudly hosts three combatant commands, 21 installations, and an effective national guard. Additionally, Florida has a robust defense industry spread throughout the state and is also home to top-tier universities with cutting-edge research programs with an extensive history of working with the Air Force and Department of Defense ( DoD). Florida also has the third-highest veteran population.”

Patrick Space Force Base previously served as a wing of the Air Force, transitioning to support the military’s space branch in 2020. The base also houses the 920th Rescue Wing, the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute as additional tenant activities.

“Patrick SFB and Cape Canaveral SFS hold a unique place in America’s history of space flight and exploration,” the letter continues. “Every crewed mission to space in our nation’s history has launched from Brevard County, Florida. From Apollo, to the Space Shuttle, and the future Artemis missions, Florida has served as our nation’s gateway to the stars. NASA and DoD formed significant bonds with the local community, private industry, and academic institutions for more than half a century.”

A move to Florida could additionally provide hundreds of new jobs within the state as a result of base expansion.

“This selection will continue the long history of Floridians working hand in hand to advance America’s national security and leadership in space,” concluded the letter.

Home to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida’s Space Coast has a long history of innovation in space flight and research. All NASA-launched crewed spaceflights (running from Project Mercury in 1961 to the Space Shuttle program in 2011) have departed from either Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral.

Kennedy Space Center continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America’s civilian space program from 3 pads at Cape Canaveral. Its Vehicle Assembly Building is the fourth-largest structure in the world by volume and was the largest when completed in 1965.

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