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  • Giesler LLC

Huntsville, Alabama: The Defense Hub of the South

Photo: Traveler1116 | Getty Images

There are many growing cities in our nation, but perhaps one of the most interesting is Huntsville, Alabama. Founded in 1805, Huntsville is located in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. It is the most populous city in the state, booming in growth since World War II to become a hub for space and defense industries.

Becoming the “Rocket City”

The first major growth for Huntsville came with the establishment of three chemical munitions facilities during WWII: the Huntsville Arsenal, the Redstone Arsenal (formerly known as the Redstone Ordnance Plant), and the Gulf Chemical Warfare Depot. After the war, the three facilities combined and shifted focus to rocket and missile development, eventually leading to the establishment of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command. The Redstone Arsenal was also where the Redstone Rocket was developed, setting the stage for Huntsville to become a future center for space development.

Army Times

The US Army Aviation and Missile Command was officially established in July 1997 and headquartered in Redstone Arsenal. Its mission is to develop and deliver responsive aviation, missile and calibration material readiness to the U.S. Army in order to optimize joint warfighter capabilities. Today, the Huntsville location employees over 8,000 civilians, military personnel, and contractors and includes simulation facilitates to test full-size helicopters and other aviation needs.


In 1960, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center was formed. In the 60s, this facility was responsible for developing the Saturn boosters later used by the Apollo Lunar landers. As the MSFC continued to grow, so did the surrounding industries. This includes the Cummings Research Park, home to 300 Fortune 500 companies, high-tech enterprises, and higher education intuitions just north of Redstone Arenal. Since the 80s, MSFC has continued to grow with support for the Artemis Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station, the James Webb Space Telescope, and many other research projects in the space sciences. It is also the designated location of NASA’s future Space Launch System (SLS), a super heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide the next foundation for human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit.


The FBI also has a large presence in the Huntsville region. Their innovation center at Redstone Arsenal employees more than 1,300 personnel focusing on training, data analytics, and cyber intelligence. Additionally, they opened a state-of-the-art Weapons Management Facility last year with the responsibility of administering and sustaining the FBI’s weapons, ammunition, and ballistic protective armor.

Next Steps

Since 2000, Huntsville has become the second-largest technology and research park in the United States, ranks among the 25 most educated cities in the nation, and one of the nation’s top high-tech hotspots. Additionally, it is one of the best Southern cities for defense jobs, the number one location for engineers most satisfied with their recognition, with high average salary and low median rent. Huntsville is an ideal place for the government and defense industry to continue to invest in for years to come.

Huntsville is also the home to two upcoming defense and technology conferences. The Space & Missile Defense Symposium takes place this week, August 9-11 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It is the leading “educational, professional development and networking event in the space and missile defense community.” To learn more about the Space & Missile Defense Symposium or register to attend, go to: The 2022 National Cyber Summit will take place September 21-22, also at the Von Braun Center. It is the nation’s “most innovative cyber security-technology event, offering unique educational, collaborative and workforce development opportunities for industry visionaries and rising leaders. To learn more about the 2022 National Cyber Summit or register to attend, go to: We hope to see you in Huntsville soon.




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