COLORADO SPRINGS — On Tuesday, construction began on a new facility on Peterson Air Force Base that will give the 138th Space Control Squadron a permanent home on the base.
The facility brings the Colorado Air National Guard, the U.S Air Force, and U.S Space Force into one facility in order to conduct “offensive” space missions.
It comes nearly a week after Virginia-based defense contractor Parsons announced it had won a $185 million contract from the Department of Defense for “situational awareness” software to continue to be used for five more years, from the company’s Colorado Springs operation.
“It’s really a valuable sign that Colorado is the epicenter of National Security Space and it’s just one element that adds to Space Command staying right here in Colorado,” said Reggie Ash, the Chief Defense Development Officer at the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.
These new investments in Space Force infrastructure in Colorado Springs come as a seeming contradiction to the decision to move Space Command, the combatant command to Space Force, out of the city and across the country to Huntsville, Alabama.
“That logic eludes all of us,” Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space.
In the wake of the announcement of the move, Hickenlooper called it a threat to national security, on top of pointing to it being inefficient.
Space Command was headquartered in Colorado Springs from 1985 until it was discontinued in 2002. When it was resurrected again in 2019, Peterson Air Force Base became the “provisional” head quarters through 2025, after which operations will be conducted out of Huntsville.
Hickenlooper sees installations like Cheyenne Mountain Air Force station and its missile defense systems as key to the area’s original draw for defense and aerospace contractors and companies.
“Because of that original, historical advantage, that’s why private companies want to be here. Now, all the private companies have built so much infrastructure, it’s crazy to move those strategic defense assets out of El Paso County, out of Colorado,” the Senator said.
Hickenlooper doesn’t see these investments as an obvious sign that the decision will be reversed, but the investigation into the final decision about Space Command’s headquarters is under investigation. He thinks that will be a while until the investigation concludes.
Regardless of what the branch’s future is in Colorado, he says any political favors related to its fate risks the nation’s traditional separation of political games and military readiness.
“We have to make these decisions for the good of the country and make sure they never have politics mixed into them,” Hickenlooper said.
Ash says the fit for Space Command remains natural because of the over 250 defense contractors in the area, the Colorado Air National Gaurd sporting more space assets than any other state, and a robust survivable communications network.
“It certainly makes a lot of sense for Space Command to stay here without having to recreate that infrastructure somewhere else,” Ash said.