Donald Trump Orders Pentagon to Create United States ‘Space Force’

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In a surprise announcement, U.S. President, Donald Trump directed the Department of Defense and the Pentagon to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the Armed Forces at the National Space Council meeting. The meeting was set to unveil the first comprehensive policy on space traffic management. 

The President has floated this idea before – in March and offered few details about how the Space Force would operate by contradicting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ opposition to creating a new military service. Trump said, “We are going to have the Air Force and we’re going to have the Space Force, separate but equal. It is going to be something so important,” and further added, “space was a national security issue.

The Air Force largely controls the national security in space under the umbrella of the Air Force Space Command. Its responsibilities include supervising launches and controlling DoD satellites that are involved in missile early warnings, communication, and navigation.

The United States signed an Outer Space Treaty in 1967 which bars states from testing weapons and establishing military bases on the moon and other celestial bodies. It also prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth. But the treaty has no enforcement mechanism.

Details about the role and timing of any new space force were not immediately clear. As Congress would have to pass a law authorizing the creation of a new branch of the military cannot happen from one day to the next. This idea creates a sixth branch to the armed forces after US Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2018 already directed the DoD to prepare a report on establishing a “space corps”. The Deputy Secretary of Defense is instructed by NDAA to hire an independent research organization without ties to the Air Force to “provide Congress with a roadmap to establish a separate military department responsible for national security space activities of the DoD.”

The president also reasserted plans to land astronauts on the moon again and, eventually, Mars. But his administration has provided few specifics about the architecture of its moon program for returning to the lunar surface.