Udall, Heinrich Announce Air Force Plans to Construct Secure Facilities at Kirtland Air Force Base to Expand Space Capabilities

Will benefit New Mexico’s growing space economy

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the U.S. Air Force has submitted a three-phase plan to construct secure workspace at Kirtland Air Force Base that will support the expanded mission of the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and benefit New Mexico’s growing space economy. The Air Force’s plan comes in response to recent efforts led by Udall and Heinrich in the U.S. Senate to push for establishing classified workspace, or secure compartmentalized information facilities (SCIFs), near the Space RCO to help make it possible for commercial partners, such as local small businesses, to partner with and contribute cutting-edge technology to the Air Force’s space capabilities – a key mission at Kirtland Air Force Base.

According to the three-phase plan, the Air Force will establish provisional workspaces at the Space RCO to function as a SCIF, followed by temporary modular facilities, with eventual plans to construct an additional facility at Kirtland that will act as a permanent new facility for use by the Space RCO.

“I’m proud to have partnered with Senator Heinrich to ensure that Kirtland Air Force Base will continue to lead the nation in space innovation,” said Udall. “This plan to increase secure workspace at Kirtland will also increase cooperation and collaboration with the commercial space sector, ultimately improving our rapid launch capabilities and growing New Mexico’s developing space economy. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I’ll continue fighting for strong investments at Kirtland and elsewhere to grow New Mexico’s thriving new space economy.”

“I’m proud to have fought alongside Senator Udall to help position the Space Rapid Capabilities Office as the linchpin of our nation's responsive space architecture. Establishing a secure workspace will expand the footprint at Kirtland Air Force Base and will allow the Sp-RCO to execute additional critical space missions for our country.  It will also make it easier for local businesses to partner with Kirtland and help facilitate the rapid fielding of new space capabilities,” said Heinrich. “As Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, I’ll continue fighting to ensure New Mexico remains the nation’s center of excellence for space research and development.” 

Udall and Heinrich have long advocated for strong funding and resources for projects critical to the success and competitiveness of Kirtland Air Force Base, particularly for the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, formerly known as Operational Responsive Space. Last year, Udall secured report language in the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction Appropriations Bill directing the Air Force to analyze the need for more secure office spaces to support and expand the work of the new Space Rapid Capabilities Office and its growing national security mission and work with commercial partners. Heinrich also successfully included an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act directing the Air Force to develop a plan for establishing classified workspace, near the Space RCO, that can be used by potential commercial partners to facilitate the rapid fielding of new space capabilities.