August 19, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Rocket City A Hub For Nation's Defense Work


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - If there was any doubt about Huntsville being the epicenter of America's rocket and missile work, the just-concluded Space and Missile Defense Conference would have defused that uncertainty.

The event consumed almost all of the exhibit space in the sprawling Von Braun Civic Center. It attracted as many as 1,400 attendees and scores of companies - from familiar giants like Boeing, Lockheed and Raytheon to small firms with only a handful of workers.

Organizers said participation may have been up this year not despite the ailing economy, but because of it. The who's who of companies in missile defense, cyber technology, satellites, engineering services and other disciplines all want a piece of the nation's threatened defense budget.

Many of the aerospace firms that participated were vying for work in the next generation space program.

Little wonder they all view Huntsville as the place to showcase their capabilities.

Figures from the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce show Huntsville and Redstone Arsenal managing billions of dollars of space and defense programs.

Federal spending in 2010 for the Huntsville-based U.S. Missile Defense Agency alone totaled $5.6 billion. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command spent $15.8 billion; U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. $1.36 billion; and U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, $14.6 billion. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center managed a $2.6 billion budget last year. Billions of dollars more in federal spending run through other federal agencies at Redstone, including $49 billion at the Army Materiel Command.

Mayor Tommy Battle said Huntsville, with its historic role in space and defense and the array of companies supporting those efforts, is well-positioned to retain much of that work. "All of those give you synergy," he said Wednesday night.

The chamber's website lists more than 450 aerospace and defense companies in Huntsville and Madison County.

America's military readiness must remain strong. Huntsville has always played a key role in protecting the warfighter.

The increase in ballistic missiles in trouble spots like Libya, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Iran will demand that missile technology - much of it developed by Huntsville-based companies - remain superior.

Redstone Arsenal has benefited from the strengths of a high-technology community. Today, Army activities at and involving Redstone far exceed those at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, which shares space with the Army on the 33,000-acre base.

Much of that technology grew up from both the space program in the 1960s and from the Army's long history of missile work.

Together, they provide the kind of "Right Stuff" that makes Huntsville live up to a chamber theme: "Protecting the Nation; Exploring the Cosmos."

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