November 19, 2020

NM Delegation Announces Albuquerque is Finalist to Host U.S. Space Command and Urges Air Force to Utilize New Mexico’s Unique Space Assets for New Headquarters

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the Department of the Air Force is naming Albuquerque as a finalist for the location of the new U.S. Space Command headquarters. The delegation continued their advocacy for New Mexico’s growing space economy. 

Space Command was reestablished as the 11th combatant command in August 2019 and is responsible for U.S military operations in space. The U.S. Air Force announced the military would institute an open bidding process for the new branch’s headquarters on May 15, 2020. As the delegation has noted, New Mexico is a strong candidate for the headquarters because of the state’s emerging space industry and experience hosting Air Force, Space Force, and federal research installations throughout the state.

Space Command would benefit from New Mexico’s strong science technology and engineering sector, its pristine weather conditions, its low cost of living, and the existing national security infrastructure at Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base. The New Mexico delegation continues to strongly advocate for the Air Force to consider Kirtland as the new home of Space Command. The delegation led a letter with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in February and sent a federal letter of support to the Secretary of the Air Force in July. Hosting the U.S. Space Command would add over 1,000 federal personnel jobs in addition to defense contract and commercial opportunities for New Mexico’s economy.

“I am encouraged that the U.S. Air Force recognizes the incredible potential that Albuquerque, New Mexico has to build a successful Space Command,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “Albuquerque is not only the home of some of our nation’s top national security practitioners, but it is an incubator of new ideas with cutting edge space research and innovation facilities. it’s Albuquerque is also a beautiful and low-cost place to call home. Just steps away from the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque is the home base for countless outdoor recreation opportunities and provides easy access to national laboratories, White Sands Missile Range and Spaceport America. In Albuquerque, Space Command not only has an opportunity to reinvent and build the nation’s new space culture, but it would gain a home with sights, food, music and strong community support that is unparalleled.”

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have worked to increase the role that New Mexico plays in developing and employing our nation’s most advanced space capabilities. New Mexico is already home to many of the nation's core space assets and has a thriving public and private space research and development community,” said Heinrich. “At the same time, New Mexico presents a unique opportunity for Space Command to build a new headquarters organization from the ground up while leveraging existing organizations like the Space Rapid Capabilities Office that have led the way in developing novel space capabilities at the speed of relevance. I will continue to advocate on behalf of New Mexico’s space assets and work to ensure the Department of Defense and the country remain at the cutting-edge of space technology.”

“Our state is uniquely equipped to support Space Force’s national security mission and efforts to strengthen America’s presence in space. New Mexico offers a vibrant space industry, key military installations, two National Labs, protected airspace, and a highly-qualified workforce,” said Luján. “I’m proud to see New Mexico on the list of finalists to host U.S. Space Force Command.”

“New Mexico is home to incredible research and development assets, so it’s no wonder that we’re one of the top contenders for our country’s space priorities. In a joint effort led by the City of Albuquerque, along with community organizations, the New Mexico congressional delegation, state and local officials have made a strong case, and now we can celebrate this giant step toward bringing new tech jobs to our communities while contributing to our country’s broader goals,” said Haaland, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

“Today’s announcement marks exciting news for New Mexico and the future of U.S. Space Command. Our state is a proven leader in both national defense and space exploration, with a long history of military excellence. Current assets like Spaceport and the innovative work conducted at White Sands Missile Range make our state an ideal home for Space Command headquarters,” said Torres Small.“Congratulations to the City of Albuquerque for making the final list of candidates and best wishes in making New Mexico home to this critical mission.”