The fate of the headquarters for the United States Space Command is far from certain, despite a commitment from the Trump administration that it would be based in Alabama.

One would think it would be easy to convince the current administration to uphold that agreement, given the influence of two stalwart Republican senators like Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt, paired with Mobile native and Auburn alumnus U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Regardless of whether the Biden administration decides to headquarter the Space Command in our state, we know that Alabama is already a major part of Space Command, having played a role in America’s space and aviation pursuits from the beginning.

While the Wright Brothers famously flew their first test flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, it was a former cotton plantation just outside Montgomery that would house America’s first flight school started by the pair. That location later became another important aerospace institution, Maxwell Air Force Base calling that site home today.

America’s space program would have been grounded from the get-go were it not for Dr. Wernher Von Braun and his team at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Center. They designed and built the first rockets allowing mankind to finally go beyond this earth and find its way amongst the stars. Without the Saturn V rocket developed in the Rocket City, there would be no Neil Armstrong taking his one small step for man, nor any giant leap for mankind.

Our state has produced the following six astronauts:

  • Birmingham’s Henry Hartsfield, who commanded the Space Shuttle Discovery’s maiden voyage

  • Opelika’s Jim Voss, record holder for the longest spacewalk to date at 8 hours and 56 minutes

  • Huntsville’s Jan Davis, who logged 11 million miles in space over the course of her career

  • Montgomery native Kathryn Thornton, who flew on the maiden voyage for the Space Shuttle Endeavour

  • Mobile-born Kay Hire, who spent more than 700 hours in space

  • Decatur-born Mae Carol Jemison, the first black woman both to go into space and participate in the NASA Astronaut Training Program

Alabama was also crucial to making sure that the Apollo 13 astronauts made it back to Earth. Were it not for the education he received at Auburn University, Ken Mattingly would not have been at Mission Control to help develop the fixes that saved the day.

The Kennedy Space Center has been led three times by directors educated in our state: Richard Smith, Lt. General Forrest McCartney, and James Kennedy. All three are Auburn alums.

The Hubble Space Telescope, that wondrous device allowing us to see and explore new parts we had never dreamed of in our solar system? It wouldn’t be here but for the leadership and direction of Jim Owen, who hails from the small hamlet of McKenzie, Ala., and the education he received at Auburn University.

Alabama’s contributions to the aerospace industry aren’t just astronauts and engineers, however. Our Marshall Space Flight Center boasts 47,000 jobs and a total economic output totaling more than $8.4 billion. More than 80,000 aerospace industry workers in greater Madison County alone call our state home, building on the legacy of the great engineers and scientists who went before, and providing the backbone of an industry garnering our state hundreds of millions in tax revenue and economic impact. Oh, and the new Space Launch System being developed to bring us back into space? While 44 different states are contributing to its development and construction efforts, it’s being led and managed by our team up at Marshall.

The Biden administration may ultimately decide to pull the plug on locating Space Command in Alabama. That would be regrettable, short-sighted, and a further example of the needless partisan politics that poison every facet of our current political system.

So, Mr. President, on behalf of the good people of Alabama, may we humbly ask that you leave Space Command in the place where it not only is needed but truly belongs – a state that made space exploration possible from its very start.

Because there’s something that we here in Alabama know darn well: you can take Space Command out of Alabama, but you can’t take Alabama out of the Space Command. We are already there, we’ve already been there, and we will continue to be there, leading, guiding, building, developing, and dreaming of the good we know we can help do.

Jack Burns is a graduate of the University of South Alabama. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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Editors note: An earlier version of this identified Space Command as "Space Force." We regret the error.