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Officials with the Department of the Air Force’s Strategic Basing Office toured the grounds of Kirtland Air Force Base on Thursday to evaluate the site as a possible location for the U.S. Space Command.
Kirtland is one of six locations being considered for the Space Command, which would bring more than 1,000 jobs to Albuquerque if it is chosen, not to mention possibly billions in spending over time. The Space Command will be where all branches of the military coordinate with each other when conducting operations in, from or through space.
New Mexico elected officials, including Sen. Martin Heinrich and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, are among those who have lobbied for Kirtland.
“This is the very end of a long process,” Sherman McCorkle, the founder of the Kirtland Partnership Committee, said of the site visit.
The committee is assisting the efforts for Kirtland to be the Space Command site.
Eva Blaylock, a spokeswoman for Kirtland Air Force Base, said the tour of Kirtland by Air Force officials on Thursday was focused primarily on infrastructure at the base. But the highly trained scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, in addition to the Kirtland’s military infrastructure, could also be advantageous in Albuquerque’s bid for the headquarters.
In addition to Kirtland, Air Force bases in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama and Texas are also under consideration.
In November, Assistant Air Force Secretary John Henderson sent a letter to Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller congratulating the city and state for being one of the six sites still under consideration.
He said the Department of the Air Force would conduct virtual and in-person visits while developing a “qualitative assessment” of each location.
The Air Force expects to announce its “preferred” location later this month, along with other “reasonable alternative locations,” Henderson said in the letter.