TALLAHASSEE, FL — As the U.S. military sets its sights on the final frontier, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is hoping to land the earthly headquarters of the Pentagon’s new Space Command.
"As the most military friendly state in the country with a fast-growing commercial aerospace industry, Florida is the ideal location for USSPACECOM," DeSantis penned in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.
"In addition to an already existing infrastructure and a highly trained workforce, Florida has enduring partnerships with both the Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration," the letter stated.
DeSantis ordered Space Florida to make it a top priority to "pursue and secure this new headquarters here in Florida." Space Florida is the state’s official voice on space-related matters, including serving as a liaison to the federal government on related issues.
President Trump signed a one-page memorandum in December authorizing the Defense Department to create the Pentagon’s new Space in an effort to better organize and advance the military’s vast operations in space. The move could cost as much as $800 million over the next five years and Florida wants a piece of the vast space pie.
Appearing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Vice President Mike Pence described Space Command as a "new era of American national security in space."
On Tuesday, Trump signed Space Policy Directive 4, establishing a new space-focused extension of the U.S. Air Force to be housed at USSPACECOM.
The first rocket launch at Cape Canaveral took place in 1950 and the facility has been used ever since.
"Florida is home to several important and strategic facilities and Air Force based, including the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso and Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, which currently provides space launch operations through the 45th Space Wing," the governor said in his letter.
The establishment of Space Command comes amid growing concerns that China and Russia are working on ways to disrupt, disable or even destroy U.S. satellites.
Space Command is separate from the president’s much touted goal of creating a "Space Force" as an independent armed service branch, but is considered a first step in that direction.
"Florida’s growing commercial space industry provides jobs for nearly 100,000 Floridians in over 470 aerospace and aviation companies that do business in the state," the Florida governor’s office added. "These companies export more than $7.6 billion in goods annually, providing major economic impact to Florida. USSPACECOM headquarters would significantly reinforce the positive impact the space industry has on Florida’s economy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Image courtesy Space Command