U.S. President Donald Trump has officially ordered the Department of Defense and Pentagon to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the country's armed forces.
Trump issued the order in a National Space Council meeting, where he shared his vision of U.S. dominance in space.
Trump Orders Creation Of Space Force USA
In the meeting, Trump made the surprise announcement regarding the creation of a Space Force.
"It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space," Trump said.
The meeting was supposed to focus on the unveiling of the first comprehensive policy on space traffic management.
"The whole point of today's meeting was not about this at all, it was about the space traffic management policy decision," said Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for NGO Secure World Foundation, which is focused on space policy.
"We are going to have the Air Force and we're going to have the Space Force, separate but equal. It is going to be something so important," said Trump. The "separate but equal" phrase raised eyebrows, as it was a term from a now-overturned 1896 Supreme Court ruling that served as the legal precedent for segregation.
This is not the first time that Trump mentioned the idea of a Space Force. He first said it in March during a speech at the Marines Corps Air Station Miramar, where he described space as just another domain of war like land, sea, and air.
Military officers have been critical of the idea, as a restructuring of the armed forces to accommodate the addition of a Space Force may do more harm than good. The sixth branch, according to the officers, will be expensive and unnecessary. The Congress, which will have to give approval for the Space Force to come to fruition, is also divided on the proposal.
In addition, the United States is a member of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space, only allowing the moon and other celestial bodies to be used for peaceful purposes.
Trump's Space Initiatives
In addition to the creation of a Space Force, the Trump administration has launched two high-profile space initiatives that have drawn critical attention.
In a renewed space race, Trump said that he wants NASA to send astronauts back to the moon, followed by a mission to send the first crewed mission to Mars.
The Trump administration is also looking to turn over the International Space Station to the private sector, as it looks to end direct deferral support for the ISS.