President Donald Trump has brought the United States closer to creating the first new military wing in more than 70 years: a space force.
Trump can not create a spatial force alone; this requires Congressional approval. On Tuesday, the President signed a document entitled Space Policy Directive 4, or SPD-4.
The new memorandum asks the Ministry of Defense (DOD) to draft a bill for Congress that would create a space force. If such legislation were adopted, the new division would exist alongside the air force, the army, the coastguard, the navy and the navy.
"The Space Force would be allowed to organize, train and equip military space forces … to ensure unhindered access to space and freedom to operate in space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in times of peace and in the specter of conflict, "according to the directive.
The directive says that legislation establishing a space force should not include NASA. But Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator and former Republican congressman, weighed in signing the document via Twitter.
"Civilization is dependent on the freedom of navigation in space.The SPD-4 guarantees the continuity of our freedom. @NASA has billions of dollars in assets and a permanent human presence in it. NASA will not have a direct role, but I support the announcement of @POTUS Trump, "Bridenstine m said Tuesday, add that he has already voted for a similar proposal to Congress.
But not everyone is on board with a space force.
NASA's retired astronaut, Mark Kelly, has expressed his opposition to this idea. Kelly is a former Navy captain, pilot, veteran fighter, quadruple astronaut and twin brother of former astronaut Scott Kelly. He also presents himself for a seat in the US Senate in Arizona.
"It's a stupid idea, the Air Force is doing it already, it's their job", Kelly tweeted in June. "What is the next step, we are moving the submarines to the 7th branch and call it the" submarine force "?"
Kelly reiterated and developed her argument in August during an interview with MSNBC.
"There is a threat but it is being managed by the US Air Force today. [It] It does not make sense to build a whole new level of bureaucracy in an incredibly bureaucratic DOD, "he said, according to Reuters. This is an area on which we must continue to focus … but we can do it within the US Air Force. . "
Kelly and her campaign did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment on the signing of the SPD-4.
However, some members of Congress also expressed their disgust for the idea of a space force, while other critics question its usefulness, its cost and its potential role in the militarization of space, with possibly be a disastrous effect.
Why the United States already has a "space force"
In her critics, Kelly was referring to the Air Force Space Command – although the band has had different names over the years.
Space's command is based in Colorado. His responsibilities include supporting the military use of satellites, launching rockets and cyberwar operations. The group also helps track the countless debris and space debris around the Earth that is a persistent threat to everything in orbit.
The space command is managed by the US Strategic Command, one of 10 groups that lead the main elements of the Ministry of Defense. Its responsibilities include monitoring the country's nuclear weapons capabilities, particularly in space, as long-range missiles and nuclear missiles cross space.
In July 2016, the space command even announced the creation of a space mission force, which, according to the military leadership, appears to be an expeditionary force.
This force was created in part to quickly react to opponent attacks in space. The main countries concerned are Russia, which continues to make known new weapons, and China, which destroyed one of its own satellites during a test carried out in 2007 with a "destruction vehicle" (essentially a bullet giant launched by a missile).
"Despite the world's interest in avoiding the militarization of space, potential adversaries have identified the use of space as a benefit to US military forces and are actively using systems to prevent the use of space in a conflict, "said General John E. Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command, wrote in a white paper on the decision made in 2016, when He directed the Space Command.
The Trump Administration wants to remove these space capabilities from the Air Force and form a new division.
For and against a space force
Some members of Congress, including Republicans in the House of Representatives, have been supportive of this idea.
"While we receive all this information about what adversaries do, our reliance on space, it's clear that we need to do better," Republican Texas representative told reporters. Thorn Thornberry, early June, according to Space News. "Organizational changes do not solve all the problems, but on the other hand, they can sometimes help to ensure that space gets the kind of priority that it should have, like the cyber, in as an area of war. "
But other members of Congress – and apparently senior army officials – have, like Kelly, questioned and rebuffed the idea of a space force.
"The president has asked an American general to create a new space force as the 6th branch of the army today, what the generals say they do not want," said the spokesman. Former Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida. tweeted in June. "Fortunately, the president can not do it without Congress, because it is not the time to tear the air force.Too many important missions are involved."
In September 2018, Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, said that the creation of a space force could cost $ 13 billion, and it has retreated on some aspects of its creation, according to Defense One. An independent security organization has suggested that it would be better to spend money to create a cyber-force to better prepare the United States for cyberwar.
The 1967 United Nations Treaty on Outer Space prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, including nuclear weapons, and their peaceful use is permitted. However, small arms and small arms are not explicitly prohibited. Experts fear that the militarization of space with such weapons will trigger a new expensive arms race.
A war in space could also lead to an event called Kessler. In this scenario, uncontrolled space debris could collide and create even more uncontrolled space debris, blocking men's access to space for decades or even centuries.
Ben Brimelow contributed to the reports.