President Trump announced Monday that he has signed an executive order that directs the Pentagon to create a “Space Force,” a new branch of the military. The Space Force would be an independent service branch that would protect America. Trump outlined his many goals for space: returning to the moon, a manned mission to Mars, and claiming power in space, saying he doesn’t want “China and Russia and other countries leading us,” according to the Boston Globe.
“My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation … The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.”
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford has been asked to oversee the creation of the Space Force. The creation of a Space Force would not mean the end of the Air Force, however, as Trump said the two branches would be “separate but equal.”
Last year, Congress rejected a proposal for a Space Force. And again this year, the House and the Senate also rejected creating a new Space Force, according to Vox. Regardless, Trump is forging ahead with his vision for a space-based military branch.
There are many critics of the Space Force, which notably includes the Air Force. Secretary Heather Wilson has been outspoken against the notion of a Space Force, saying that “the Pentagon is complicated enough … This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart.”
Other opponents include Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who said that “I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting efforts.”
As far as what a Space Force would look like is still unclear. Military noted that it’s uncertain whether military bases would be built in space, or how current military personnel may be integrated into the new branch.
Trump underlined the importance of the Space Force, reported Politico.
“Our destiny beyond the earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security, so important for our military and people don’t talk about it … When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space.”
Meanwhile, Trump is encouraging “rich guys” who are working on space travel, according to Fox News. Trump is likely referring to billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX program and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ rocket startup Blue Origin. The president said that “so all of those rich guys that are dying for our real estate to launch their rockets, we won’t charge you too much, just go ahead. If you beat us to Mars, we’ll be very happy and you’ll be even more famous.”
The logistics and future of the Space Force remain to be seen. In 1967, the U.S. signed the Outer Space Treaty, which means that America can’t put nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction in space. Later in 2014, the U.S. declined to sign a treaty which would have banned weapons in space, according to Popular Science. The new idea of a Space Force may also force other countries to consider a similar move.