President Donald Trump wants the Department of Defense to create a sixth military branch: the United States Space Force. The U.S. Space Force would take on tasks that NASA doesn’t have the funding or mission reach to accomplish.
“We are going to have the Space Force,” said Trump.
Trump said that he wants to “be the leader by far” in spacefaring and that the Space Force should be a branch equal to the other military branches. He pointed out that this is necessary to prevent “China and Russia and other countries leading us.”
He’s not alone. Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and none other than Buzz Aldrin himself as leaders of his Space Council.
“Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy,” said Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White. “Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.”
“Space is a warfighting domain, so it is vital that our military maintains its dominance and competitive advantage in that domain,” explained the White House in a statement.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is an outspoken opponent of the idea. “The president told a U.S. general to create a new Space Force as sixth branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want,” said Nelson on Twitter.
“Thankfully the President can’t do it without Congress because now is not the time to rip the Air Force apart,” said Nelson. “Too many important missions at stake.”
The ultimate goal of the Space Force is to return to the moon and eventually land people on Mars. A secondary, but perhaps more important mission, will be to police satellites and space junk.
The upper atmosphere and Earth orbits are cluttered with failing or spent satellites that pose a significant threat to modern working satellites.
If the U.S. has the ability to clean up this junk it will make the skies safe for future users. It also would put the U.S. in the secure position of being able to target potential enemy satellites.
Interestingly, the United States is a ratified member of the Outer Space Treaty. The U.S. signed the treaty in 1967.
Treaty members have agreed not to place military bases or practice military maneuvers in space. They are also prohibited from testing weapons of mass destruction in space. The treaty does not prohibit putting or using conventional weapons in space, however.
Trump criticized politicians for pushing NASA to the sidelines and cutting its budget. The Space Force would develop new guidelines for safe satellite designs and satellite and spacecraft collision avoidance.
“There’s no place like space,” said Trump.