You’ve got the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy, but how about a US Space Force by 2020? Marked with the jarring religious zeal that blankets many of his announcements, VP Mike Pence officially announced the creation and the target date for said astro agency at an address at the Pentagon yesterday.
Suffice it to say, it left many scratching their heads, so here’s a rundown of what it is, what we know, and what the point of it is. The TL;DR version can be summed with a world-weary sigh.
There’s a fair bit to say about the initiative, other than the fact that its name sounds like a rejected '80s kids show, and the jokes are writing themselves. You can also vote on its terrible logos if you support the idea, which is itself quite likely to be yet another distraction from the ongoing investigation that gives the President a severe case of the Twitter tantrums.
“The Space Force – does that make sense?” the President said from a dais back in March. His words were light on details, but back in June, he ordered the Pentagon to look into it. It’s led to some catchy chanting among Trump’s political base, some of whom think it would be the best way to fend off Space ISIS.
Details remain sparse, but plenty have suggested that Space Force will involve armed starship troopers handling warfare in near-to-zero gravity conditions.
As it happens, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to which the US is party to, prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, as well as military maneuvers or operations on the Moon. It allows for "military personnel for scientific research... and any other peaceful purposes."
As noted by ArsTechnia, the Space Force’s function will instead likely be to use military space missions to protect US activities in space. Less Starship Troopers, more high-tech bodyguards: a not-unreasonable notion that seems far more ludicrous when you consider which administration is proposing it.
It has, however, been frequently pointed out that the US Military has been involved in space for over half a century now, particularly when it comes to satellite tech, for terrestrial, warfare-based observations and communications.
Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, called the Space Force idea “dumb” and “wasteful”, while pointing out that the Air Force has already branched out into space. An ex-Air Force Chief called it "a solution in search of a problem."