(CBS4) – Political leaders from all over Colorado were surprised and angered this week when it was announced that Space Command will leave Colorado Springs. Its new home will be Huntsville, Alabama.

“I’m deeply disappointed. From my perspective this would be my greatest disappointment,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

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According to local and state officials and sources within the military, indications were Colorado Springs was the top choice among the finalists for a permanent headquarters, which has some raising concerns the decision was politically motivated.

On Tuesday Sara Fiocco, an Air Force spokesperson, told CBS4 rumors that President Trump “overrode” the decision are “not accurate.”

Because most of the decision-making process is not public, we still had a lot of questions about how the Air Force came to its conclusion. We reached out to Sara Fiocco again and what follows are our questions and her responses.

What factors motivated the decision to select a permanent location and the move away from Colorado?

Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama was selected by the Secretary of the Air Force to host U.S. Space Command headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and cost to the Department of Defense. Huntsville compared favorably across more of these factors than any other community, providing a large, qualified workforce, superior infrastructure capacity, and low initial and recurring costs.

Will the Air Force reveal the search process it underwent to make this decision and the places under consideration?

Twenty-four states provided self-nominations to participate in the process to determine a permanent host location for U.S. Space Command headquarters. A total of 50 communities were evaluated. From there, the Department of the Air Force selected six candidate locations and conducted both virtual and on-site visits to assess which  would be best suited to host the U.S. Space Command Headquarters based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense.

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How does the Air Force respond to questions about this decision being politically motivated?

The Secretary of the Air Force thoughtfully considered all input, feedback, staff analysis, best military advice, changes in the strategic environment, and what evaluation criteria is the most important.

Given the complexity and importance of this decision, she also received feedback from the National Command Authority, defense oversight committees, senior commanders, and functional staff experts before making her decision on the preferred location for Headquarters U.S. Space Command.  

What are the next steps in moving forward with this relocation? Are there additional approvals that are needed by the government?

The Department of the Air Force anticipates making a final decision for the location of U.S. Space Command Headquarters in spring 2023, pending the results from the required environmental impact analysis.

More information on that here: epa.gov/nepa/national-environmental-policy-act-review-process

Will the new administration need to sign off on this decision and will the process wait for new leadership to be in place before going any further?

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Once the environmental impact analysis is complete, the new SecAF will make a final decision.

Laura Phillips