COLORADO SPRINGS — One of the most significant economic decisions in decades for Southern Colorado is expected soon, and could make Colorado Springs the permanent home of U.S. Space Command.
On Tuesday, a key step in the process took place, with a team from The Pentagon touring Peterson Air Force Base. Peterson Air Force base has been the temporary home of U.S. Space Command since May of 2020, and is now one of six finalists vying to be it's permanent home. The other finalists include Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, Joint Base San Antonio, and Offutt Air Base, Nebraska.
Retired Colonel Reggie Ash is the chief development officer at the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. He was in the Air Force for 24 years, and around a third of that was spent in Colorado Springs. Ash went on the tour with The Pentagon team on Tuesday, and he said it went exceptionally well. "This is so important for Colorado Springs, for our community, for our identity. Because since 1982, when the Air Force created the first Space Command, this has been the center of space in the military world," said Ash.
Ash said it is estimated that 1,400 people would work at U.S. Space Command, and that Peterson Air Force Base already has the ability to house the amount of senior officers that would move here. News5 also asked if there are concerns about affordable housing for other members and their families who would need to relocate. "If you look around town, you see a lot of construction going on, especially downtown. There's a lot of multi-family homes going up, and those are things that are going to help tremendously with that," said Ash.
In addition to touring housing for senior officers, and seeing the land planned to construct the headquarters, the group also left the base to learn more about Colorado Springs Utilities. Specifically, they discussed their power generation and water treatment capabilities and capacities. Ash explained how important it is for U.S. Space Command to depend on their utility provider, as they cannot afford any outages. "Colorado Springs Utilities, they're in the top 1% of power generation companies across the United States in terms of their reliability, and that's something that the team from the Pentagon took note of today... Colorado Springs Utilities takes the priority of this community, and the priority of the community is not turning a profit, it's being a service to this community," said Ash.
The city has also offered tax incentives for U.S. Space Command to come to Colorado Springs, in part because of the economic impact it could have on the community. "It's an estimate of about a billion dollars a year," said Mayor John Suthers.
COVID-19 has delayed some aspects of this process. "This visit today was originally supposed to be on December 16. December 16 turned into a virtual visit. In fact, there was supposed to be three people today, and there was only two, because one of the team members today was quarantining because they came into close contact with somebody that tested positive. So, it continues to impact that process," said Ash.
Ash said The Pentagon group is heading to New Mexico on Wednesday, for their last stop in these tours. He said they have already been building a decision package for the Secretary of the Air Force to make a final recommendation, which will then go to President Donald Trump.
Mayor Suthers expects the decision will be announced between January 15 and 20.
Ash explained what the U.S. Space Command does, saying it oversees operations in space conducted by all the service branches. That involves the command and control of satellites, as well as the missile warning systems that protect our country, in addition to deployed troops.