Alabama may have won the national contest to house headquarters for the coming U.S. Space Force but there remain other opportunities for Florida, a Space Florida executive said Thursday.
Florida still is in good position to compete for additional Space Force and U.S. Space Command operational facilities, including the Space Force Training and Readiness Command, Space Florida Senior Vice President and General Manager Jim Kuzma told the House Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Thursday.
Without anyone knowing that the U.S. Air Force would announce Wednesday night that the Space Force headquarters would be established in Huntsville, Ala., the committee had asked Kuzma to come in Thursday morning to update members on Florida’s proposal and chances for that facility.
The unexpected announcement Wednesday night — Kuzma suggested it was such a surprise it might have been rushed to beat a leak — took the air out of his presentation.
While he said there still is a remote possibility something could go wrong with the Huntsville proposal and the Air Force could change its mind, Kuzma was reduced Thursday to telling the committee what a great job everyone involved in Florida had done in defeat, and what’s left to shoot for.
“It’s unfortunate. But everything we did before for that effort actually supports us very well for opportunities with the Space Force,” Kuzma said.
Those opportunities may be topped by the Space Force Training and Readiness Command, which Kuzma said would be bigger, with more jobs than the actual headquarters. He pointed to the Space Coast’s and Central Florida’s existing infrastructure, area universities involved in space and technology training and research, notably the University of Central Florida, as well as to the exciting launch and commercial space infrastructure. Kuzma said Florida’s critical military and commercial research centers, such as the modeling and simulation centers clustered around UCF, could also be a draw.
“We have capabilities across the spectrum, in technology, materials, launch capabilities, satellite production,” he said. “So we’re working very hard at that.”
Kuzma said he had no information on why Huntsville won, or why Florida or anywhere else lost. In fact, many observers had projected that Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., interim home to the Space Force, would get the nod. Kuzma said he did expect the Air Force to debrief him and others eventually, and he would pass along what he learned to the committee.
“I will say that although Huntsville was determined to be the preferred location, Florida is an acceptable alternative location. What that means is the Department of Defense will still do all the environmental assessments and if for some reason the preferred location doesn’t pan out,” he said, stopping short. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened in the last ten years, but there always might be a first time.”