Stewart Airport in New York looks to be home of US Space Force
By DANIEL AXELROD | The Times Herald-Record | Published: May 21, 2020
NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — New York Stewart International Airport: the final frontier? If Orange County leaders have their way, America's future Captain Kirks will study, explore and protect space from a base beside the airport and the Stewart Air National Guard Base, home to the 105th Air Wing.
Orange County leaders are discussing with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials, who the run the airport, marketing the airport's campus for the future headquarters of the U.S. Space Force, America's newest military branch.
"Stewart is, ideally, the place for the Space Force for three reasons," said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus. "The Air Force already has a presence there, with the Air National Guard, it's already listed as alternative landing site for shuttles because it has such a long landing strip, and there's a ton of land around that property."
Talks began Monday, soon after U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer's staff told the county that the U.S. Space Force recently began looking for local governments to self-nominate for consideration.
Last year, the federal government established the Space Force as the military's sixth branch alongside the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The Secretary of the Air Force oversees the Space Force, just as the Secretary of the Navy supervises the Marines.
The Space Force isn't full of laser-blasting, light saber-wielding space cops. But its mission does include protecting America from hostile threats from other countries and improving communications with satellites.
Colorado Springs currently serves as the Space Force's provisional location. But, by early next year, its leaders hope to pick a new headquarters for between 1,000 and 2,000 personnel, according to Schumer's office.
Orange County will face stiff competition from local governments across the U.S., but the county will miss 100 percent of the shots it doesn't take, Neuhaus said.
On Thursday, Schumer's spokeswoman Allison Biasotti said the U.S. Senate Minority Leader thinks "Stewart Air National Guard Base is a world-class facility, with a top-notch workforce, that's an attractive location" for Space Force.
Port Authority spokeswoman Cheryl Ann Albiez had no comment beyond saying that the Air Wing owns much of the land around the airport.
Orange County officials say they plan to begin talks with the Air Wing soon, and the county also could contact private developers, who own land around the airport.