Situated in northwest Alabama’s Tennessee River Valley, Madison County is the state’s third most-populated county and enjoys its second-highest per capita income. Huntsville, the county seat and fastest-growing city, borders Redstone Arsenal on the north and east, with the Tennessee River forming Redstone’s southern boundary. Huntsville is 110 miles south of Nashville, Tennessee, on Interstate 65; about 335 miles northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, on I-65 and I-20; and 185 miles northwest of Atlanta on U.S. Highway 72 and I-75. Dallas lies 667 miles to the west on I-40, I-30 and U.S. 72; and Chicago is 583 miles north on I-65.
Morgan County is just southwest of Redstone Arsenal, and its largest city and county seat — Decatur — sits 21 miles away on the banks of the Tennessee River.
Redstone Arsenal is home to the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Forces Strategic Command, U.S. Army Contracting Command, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, numerous Program Executive Offices and major components of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Missile Defense Agency. Several tenant and satellite organizations are also at Redstone Arsenal, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016.
Redstone is the heart of the Army’s rocket and missile programs. It was at Redstone Arsenal that Wernher von Braun and other German rocket experts developed the first ballistic missile, leading to the establishment of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1960.
Redstone Arsenal remains the center of testing, development and doctrine for the Army’s missile programs, and it continues to host the Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA’s field center for propulsion analysis and development, which developed the Saturn rocket family in the 1960s and propulsion systems for the Space Shuttle.
The arsenal has 900 active-duty military personnel, with about 1,225 family members; 24,000 government-employed civilians; and 17,000 contractor employees who live in the area.
Redstone Arsenal, the largest employer in the metropolitan area, has a workforce of 42,000 people, including active-duty military, government-employed civilians and contractors. The arsenal has an economic impact of more than $10.5 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 Housing Market Profiles. Redstone generates 66,500 indirect jobs in the metropolitan area and bordering counties. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center employs 6,000 people and creates 17,000 indirect jobs in Madison County. The space center has a $3.8 billion economic impact on Madison County.