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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama will serve as the headquarters for U.S. Space Command, the Air Force announced Wednesday, after a hard-fought lobbying campaign.

The big picture: The U.S. military relies on space assets for all types of warfighting, and Space Command — which was established in 2019 as a unified combatant command — is designed to help protect those assets, treating space as a theater of war in much the same way air and sea are.

The intrigue: Alabama beat out six finalists that were in the running to be the site of the headquarters, including Colorado Springs, where Space Command is currently housed.

  • “My concern is that politics played a significant role in this result," Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said in a statement. "It would be wholly appropriate, and we would request, that Congress and the Biden administration direct the U.S. Air Force to provide full details regarding the recommendations it made and make public the role President Trump played in this decision."

Behind the scenes: There was a huge amount of backstage wrangling from members of Congress and other interested parties to secure the coveted headquarters, which is expected to bring with it upwards of 1,500 jobs.

  • Key Trump allies were lobbying hard. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was pushing the president to have the facility at Patrick Air Force Base in his home state and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was urging to have it at Port San Antonio.
  • But it was the Alabamanians who won the behind-the-scenes battle. Sen. Richard Shelby, the powerful outgoing Appropriations Committee chairman, was the linchpin, according to a source with direct knowledge. And two of Trump's staunchest backers in congress, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Mo Brooks, used their strong personal relationships with the president.
  • Alabama native Cliff Sims, a former Trump White House aide and current senior adviser to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, also assisted the effort by engaging directly with the White House.

What's next: The provisional headquarters will remain in Colorado Springs until Redstone Arsenal is ready to become the permanent headquarters.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Investment in the space industry overcame the pandemic's headwinds in 2020

A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.