Back in March, President Trump pulled the idea of a “Space Force” out of his well-seasoned anus and thought it was a fantastic idea. Funadamentally, it’s not a bad idea at all, and I know this because we’ve effectively had a Space Force for decades, even if it hasn’t been called exactly that. Now, he’s directed the Department of Defense to create a “Space Force” as a sixth military branch.
Here’s how Trump approached the idea in March, in his usual highly careful and considered manner:
“I said ‘maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the space force.’ Not really serious. And then I said ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.’ That could happen.”
Here’s some of Trump’s speech earlier today at the National Space Council meeting:
Let’s be absolutely clear here: America has had a military presence in space—effectively a space force—since the 1960s. Though it’s gone by different names over the years, it’s part of the Air Force (similarly to how the Marines are technically part of the Department of the Navy) and is currently known as the Joint Functional Component Command for Space. The U.S. Air Force has also operated space-based missions and craft for decades, and had their own experimental versions of the Gemini capsule, along with plans for an orbiting military space station called the Manned Orbital Laboratory.
The Air Force also operates the world’s only currently flying re-usable space shuttle-like vehicle, the X-37b, and, of course, there’s many many military satellites circling the Earth as we speak.
Potentially, today’s directive would organize the creation of a new “top level” military branch, like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and, if we really want to be accurate, the National Guard.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis wasn’t crazy about making a separate branch for the Space Force back in March, writing in a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees:
“Space Corps: 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 functions.”
Really, this new Space Force isn’t going to change what we’re already doing—and have been doing—militarily in space for years and years. Maybe it’ll mean more bureaucracy on the down side, and maybe it’ll mean some badass silver lamé jumpsuits for uniforms on the plus side.
I guess we’ll just see.