Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA Kennedy Space Center. Credit Daniel Oberhaus, Wikimedia Commons
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been leaning on President Trump to overrule the U.S. Air Force’s top brass and bring the planned U.S. Space Command to Florida’s Space Coast instead of Colorado.
“I pester him about that,” DeSantis said Monday during a news conference at the offices of Space Florida in Merritt Island. “I don’t think he’s going to make the decision necessarily anytime soon. But I think Florida would be a very good place for that.”
Space Florida is a state public-private agency that promotes investment in the space industry.
Trump announced last year that he wants to create a U.S. Space Force as an independent branch of the military, on par with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force, and establish the Space Command to coordinate military operations in orbit.
Air Force planners reportedly are considering sites in Colorado – already home to extensive military command-and-control facilities – and California as the new headquarters. Florida’s congressional delegation – particularly U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – reportedly have been lobbying for Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Vice President Pence traveled to Kennedy to formally announce the initiative in December.
DeSantis cited Florida’s existing state infrastructure during his news conference, arguing that locating the new facility here would assist his efforts to bring private space investment to the state. For example, The Boeing Co. last week announced plans to move its commercial space operations to Florida.
“Florida has a lot to offer. Having the Space Force combatant command here, I think that would continue to attract more of the manufacturing base and the investment side of it,” DeSantis said.
The governor has argued that his close ties to the president have benefited Florida in the form of disaster assistance following Hurricane Michael and other recent storms. Monday, he said he’s notified Air Force commanders of his discussions with the president.
“They can consider what they want,” he said. “I went to the president early on. I said, ‘Mr. President, they’re going to do the process. If that’s the process and that’s what’s going to happen, I respect that. But I think it’s your decision.’ And he made it very clear it’s his decision to make.”
DeSantis was in Merritt Island to sign HB 7071, which promotes apprenticeship programs as an alternative to traditional academic learning, among other education initiatives that may or may not be popular with educators, students and families.
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