Trump Officially Launches Space Force, but There’s a Catch

In this screengrab from video, President Donald Trump holds up Space Policy Directive — 4: Establishment of the United States Space Force after signing it Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in the Oval Office.

By Published on February 19, 2019

President Donald Trump signed a directive Tuesday that will launch the Space Force, placing it under the Air Force. The plan still needs to be approved by Congress, reported The Wall Street Journal.

“Space, that’s the next step and we have to be prepared,” Trump said Tuesday according to WSJ. “I think we’ll have great support from Congress.”

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The Space Force is set to be under the administration of the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is under the administration of the U.S. Navy, reported WSJ. Trump had pushed for the Space Force to be independent from other military branches.

“I think the fact that we’re having a national debate on space is really healthy. Really healthy,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Tuesday morning, according to The Washington Post. “We’re the best in the world at space, and our adversaries know it, and they’ve been studying us and investing in ways to take away that capability in crisis or conflict. That, to me, is the problem statement, and we as a nation cannot let that happen.”

Trump is expected to propose funding for the Space Force in a 2020 budget plan with the goal of shifting the Space Force to a separate military department, according to a senior administration official cited by WSJ.

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Estimates for how much the Space Force will cost have varied. Vice President Mike Pence called for an “additional $8 billion” to invest in space technology over the next five years during a speech on Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, the Air Force “released its own $13 billion estimate of the costs over the next five years to stand up both a Space Force and a U.S. Space Command,” but acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the move would cost less than $5 billion, reported DefenseNews.

The Space Force will be represented among the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanded by an Air Force under-secretary for space, reported CNBC.

The Space Force has garnered some unexpected defenders, including astrophysicist and television host Neil deGrasse Tyson. “Just because it came out of Trump’s mouth doesn’t make it a crazy idea,” deGrasse Tyson told Salon in September.

Trump originally floated the idea of a Space Force during a speech at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in California on March 13.

 

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