SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane prides itself on a longstanding commitment to aerospace innovation. Now, local leaders hope to edge out of the competition in their bid for the Space Force headquarters.
Mayor Nadine Woodward wrote a letter to John Henderson, the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, on June 23 to nominate Spokane for consideration as the U.S. Space Command hub.
“Spokane is the nation’s fifth largest aerospace cluster and the second largest in a state that is a global leader in aerospace with strong competitiveness in space and defense. Not only are we a region dedicated to strengthening our communities with a robust university and aerospace cluster, we also have a long-standing positive relationship with Fairchild Air Force Base,” the letter reads in part.
Spokane County commissioners are waiting for a signature from Gov. Jay Inslee on their letter submitting a nomination, according to spokesperson Jared Webley.
President Donald Trump officially launched the Space Force in December 2019 when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. It falls under the Department of the Air Force but is a distinct military service.
The role of the new Space Command is to conduct operations such as enabling satellite-based navigation and communications for troops and commanders in the field, and providing warning of missile launches abroad.
The Air Force, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, announced in May of 2020 that it would accept nominations for the headquarters’ location based on specific criteria.
Tara Lee, a spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee's office, said the Washington Department of Commerce has worked with communities across the state as they determine their eligibility based on the Air Force’s minimum screening criteria and seek endorsement of the governor.
Communities must meet three minimum screening criteria outlined by the Air Force for self-nomination: a population base that is within the top 150 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the United States; location within 25 miles of a military base; and a Livability Index score of 50 points out of 100 or higher as determined by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute.
"As a long supporter of the military and defense economic sector in WA — our state’s second largest direct public employer — Governor Inslee is pleased to endorse multiple Washington communities in their efforts to host the new headquarters. Our state’s commitment to supporting the national defense and our robust space and aerospace industry make us an ideal candidate," Lee wrote in a prepared statement sent to KREM.
Inslee has endorsed letters of interest from Spokane, Kent, Tacoma, Everett and Vancouver, Lee added.
When the United States Space Command is fully established, it will have approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel working in the headquarters.