NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman, conveys his full support of the future military Space Force as proposed by President Donald Trump in June.
Trump has appointed Bridenstine as NASA administrator in 2017. The senate confirmed his appointment in April.
On Aug. 9, Vice President Mike Pence officially announced that the Defense Department will establish a sixth branch of the armed forces — the U.S. Department of the Space Force — by 2020.
The One Condition
Bridenstine was with the president when the latter first called for the establishment of a new military unit that would be known as the Space Force.
On Aug. 13, the NASA administrator reiterated his backing of the proposed new military tranche. He, however, highlighted an important demarcation. While a Space Force will be beneficial for the United States, he believes that the military unit should have a role completely separated from NASA.
The space agency should be entirely focused on science missions, space exploration, and technology development, he said. NASA should maintain its independence from defense capabilities and national security issues, Bridenstine underscored.
The NASA administrator was speaking in New Orleans while touring the Michoud Assembly Center, where crews are working in support of the next moon and Mars mission.
Meanwhile, President Trump had mentioned the importance of the Space Force as he signed the $716 billion defense policy bill for the fiscal year 2019 on Monday. In his speech for the occasion, he said the United States lags behind its rivals in terms of technological capabilities.
The president alleged that China and other nations have already established their respective military space organizations with technologies that can disrupt satellites, jamming transmissions during battlefield operations.
"Our foreign adversaries and competitors have already begun weaponizing space. I've seen things that you don't even want to see, what they're doing, and how advanced they are," Trump said.
Sixth Branch Of The Armed Forces
During his Aug. 9 announcement, Pence said Defense will follow critical steps toward establishing the Space Force. First, a U.S. Space Command will be created. This will be followed by the establishment of the Space Operations Force and then the Space Development Agency.
The vice president noted that advances in space technology displayed by other nations were clear indications that space is the new battlefield for the 21st century. Through the Space Force, the country will hopefully address threats brought by the emerging new battlefield.
"For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground. But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself," Pence highlighted in his speech.