A Space Force
In June 2018, President Trump voiced his support for the Space Force to the U.S. National Space Council. “That’s a big statement”, said Trump, “we are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force - separate but equal”.
At the moment, there is no independent military branch focused on space. However, there is a sizeable space command within the air force. If the U.S congress assents the new legislation, the Space Force will be the first branch added to the U.S. military since the Air Force in 1947. On 9 August, Mike Pence announced more detailed plans for a proposed US Space Force by 2020. Its purpose is to protect U.S. military interests in space. There is not yet a cost estimate for the creation of a space force. However, Pence has asked for Congress to approve $8 billion in funding over five years for space security systems.
Pence has argued that space is a “fundamentally changed” environment, with Russia recently successfully testing a hypersonic glide vehicle that can be launched into space and navigate its own way into Earth’s atmosphere whilst avoiding radar and anti-missile defences. In addition, despite stressing their peaceful motives, China has also developed anti-satellite and anti-ballistic missile weapons. As the U.S. military depends on satellites for everything from intelligence, surveillance, navigation, communications, and the accurate guidance of weapons, there is a significant concern that the targeting of this infrastructure has the potential to cripple the United State's military power.
Although Trump has broadcasted his interests before, his cabinet have previously opposed the idea. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who is now in support of a Space Force, spoke out against the proposal in July 2017, voicing concerns that such a project would be a waste of public money. In addition, there are concerns that a space force would be in contravention of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which designates space as a global commons reserved for peaceful purposes.
Is the establishment of a Space Force a good investment to preserve global stability or a waste of money that could potentially lead to an arms race?
The Guardian, ‘It’s going to happen: is the world ready for a war in space?’