US President Donald Trump has expressed a desire to set up a “Space Force”. Nope, that isn’t his latest reality TV series, it is an idea to set up a new branch of military that would protect America’s place in the geopolitical order through the militarization of space.
“Space is a warfighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea," Trump told the crowd at a Marine Corps base in Miramar, California, on Tuesday. “We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force.”
“I was saying it the other day – because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space – I said, maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the Space Force and I was not really serious,” he goes on. “And then I said, what a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that. That could happen.”
He then pointed towards the press box and said something about “fake news”, to which the crowd wildly erupted in applause.
It might sound like the talk of a guy who watches too much sci-fi late at night in bed (and the name needs a little bit of work), but it closely mirrors the rhetoric of other high-ranking US officials. Last month, David L Goldfein, a General in the US Air Force, said: “I believe we’re going to be fighting from space in a matter of years.”
Goldfein said today that he was "excited about the dialogue," according to The Hill.
Bizarrely, however, Trump’s administration actually rejected the proposal to establish a “Space Corps” last year. I guess SpaceX’s recent successes changed his mind?
In another remark at the recent speech, Trump took the opportunity to take a dig at his former opponent Hillary Clinton, boasting: “Very soon we're going to Mars. You wouldn't be going to Mars if my opponent won, that I can tell you. You wouldn't even be thinking about it.”
That’s not exactly true. The Obama administration’s priority for NASA's manned exploration was to put humans on Mars by the mid-2030s. Trump’s administration changed that goal to put humans back on the Moon, then eventually to Mars. Clinton has never expressed any desire to change Obama's plan, but hey, politics being politics, anything is possible.
Needless to say, his speech was enough to send the Internet into its usual pop culture-infused overdrive: