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2 Tampa Bay area counties are vying to become home of the US Space Force

Gov. Ron DeSantis has endorsed all eight nomination letters for communities looking to host the U.S. Space Force headquarters.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the new U.S. Space Force looks for a prime spot for its headquarters, eight communities in Florida have submitted nomination letters to land it.

Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency, held a call on Tuesday with staff from the Florida Congressional delegation. Following an eligibility screening process, the agency announced Gov. Ron DeSantis had endorsed the nomination letters from all eight communities vying for the Space Force headquarters.

The areas trying to convince Space Force to make a home there include Brevard County, Hillsborough County, city of Jacksonville, city of Miami-Dade, Orange County, city of Pensacola, Pinellas County and Seminole County. 

Each area's letter pitched the strength and eligibility of the community to host another military headquarters. Florida currently is home to three combatant commands and more than 20 military installations.

In Hillsborough County's letter addressed to Assistant Secretary John Henderson touts the area is home to MacDill Air Force Base and both Central Command and Special Operations Command. 

The letter, signed by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and Commission Chair Les Miller, also notes the area's nearly 100,000 veterans and the "large concentration of defense and security industry businesses that are prepared to support United States Space Command."

"The State's defense and aerospace ecosystem provides unique capabilities and opportunities that would benefit the USSPACECOM," Space Florida said in a release. "The creation of Space Force generates prospects for commands, supporting structures and related business development as this new branch of the military continues to develop in the coming years."

DeSantis announced his endorsements of the proposals on Monday in a letter to Air Force Assistant Secretary John Henderson, noting the state's long history of supporting American space exploration and technology through Kennedy Space Center, the 45th Space Wing and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"These installations provide great support to our national defense and provide a significant economic impact to our state," DeSantis said. "Equally important as our military installations is Florida's robust commercial space industry."

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Space Florida on Thursday will host a video call to discuss the current status of the headquarters competition and how the agency can assist communities vying for the Space Force win.

So far, the U.S. Air Force has received dozens of nomination letters from communities across the country. Final selection is expected to be announced in early 2021.

In mid-May, the newest branch of the armed services revealed its own flag. The Space Force was officially established in December 2019 as the first new military service since the U.S. Air Force was created in 1947.

The 16,000 airmen and civilians that make up the Space Force technically remain part of the Air Force. President Donald Trump, however, has made clear he sees the new branch as critical to the future of American defense.

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