Image Courtesy: https://armsindustries.com/united-states-space-force
During a visit to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California, on March 13, 2018, President Donald Trump revealed an idea he had. “You know, I was saying the other day because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the Space Force,” Trump said. “And I was not really serious, and then I thought, ‘Maybe that’s a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.'”
The idea was prompted in part by Trump’s excitement about the recent increase in space research. “You’re seeing the rockets going up left and right; you haven’t seen that for a long time,” he said. “Very soon we’re going to Mars.” What President Trump may not have known at the time, was that the concept of a space force had already been debated for years on Capitol Hill and inside the Pentagon.
The Planning Process
On June 18, 2018, President Donald Trump officially announced his plans for a Space Force, an independent military service branch to undertake missions and operations in the rapidly developing domain of space. Vice President Mike Pence and the Department of Defense released more details about the Space Force on August 9, 2018, citing plans to create a Department of the Space Force, and setting an ambitious timeline in which the Space Force would be expected to be established between 2020 and 2024.
Immediately following Pence’s announcement in August, the Pentagon released a report that detailed some of the Department of Defense’s immediate actions for creating the Space Force:
- Establish a Space Development Agency – This is an agency tasked with developing and testing new and improved national-security capabilities and technology in space.
- Establish a Space Operations Force – This force will be a collection of space experts from throughout the military who will provide needed expertise to combat commanders and anyone else throughout the Space Force.
- Create a United States Space Command – Led by a four-star general or flag officer, the new space command would direct and improve operations for space war fighting.
These three components would later be united to become the final Space Force, or Space Corps, as it is also known.
The Space Force Takes Flight
On March 1, 2019, the Department of Defense forwarded a Space Force proposal to Congress calling for a service that would fall under the Air Force in the same way the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy. The proposal also included the designation of a new position: undersecretary of the Air Force for space, a civilian position that would answer to the secretary of the Air Force and oversee the Space Force.
The proposal of the formation of a Space Force as a sixth branch of the military was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act under the name of the United States Space Corps. The House Armed Services Committee voted to approve the establishment of the U.S. Space Corps on June 13, 2019. There will be a one-year transition period between the Air Force and the Space Corps, beginning on January 1, 2021. The Committee has given both entities a little leeway, setting a final deadline for its completion on December 31, 2023.
Transition from Air Force to Space Corps
The U.S. Space Corps will be the first new military service in more than 70 years, following the establishment of the U.S. Air Force in 1947. In an interview with Space.com, Michael Dodge, assistant professor in the Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota, compared the creation of a Space Force with the birth of the Air Force in the 20th century.
The early version of the U.S. Air Force existed as the U.S. Army Air Corps, an aerial warfare sector of the U.S. Army. But as planes continued to advance technologically and find their way into mainstream travel, “Congress decided they needed to have a new branch of the military,” Dodge said. The country needed a branch that could “address issues unique to this domain.”
The Space Force would essentially serve the same purpose, for space. Dodge explained that it would “free up the Air Force to focus on what it does best,” as the new branch would focus on issues unique to space. Dodge noted that a space-oriented, sixth military branch makes perfectly good sense now.
“[O]ur assets are so critical in outer space and everything that we do is so dependent on outer space that we need a new force capable of focusing on that domain by itself,” Dodge stated. “This reality becomes clear when you see that pilots and space guys don’t understand each others’ career paths,” NASA astronaut Terry Virts told SpaceNews. Space operations demand unique skills like understanding orbits and calibrating sensors, he said. “It’s not flying F-16s.”
Space Corps Recruitment
The Space Corps will be the Pentagon’s smallest service. Still, officials estimate the creation of a new military branch will require 15,000 personnel including enlisted, officers, and civilians. The Pentagon will work to move personnel into the service over the next several years. At first, most of these people will be transferred into the Space Force from the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. After that, there will be a strong emphasis on recruitment. This will likely take the shape of a personnel and training center, officials said. There are no plans for a separate Space Force Academy.
The criteria for joining U.S. Space Corps will probably be similar to current requirements for space-related specializations within the Air Force and the USAF Space Command. In all likelihood, you will need to learn Electronic Engineering, Mechatronics, Computer and Software Engineering, Material Sciences, and have strong technical skills for maintenance and repair. Along with performing independent space operations, the Space Force will be responsible for providing space support to land, air, naval, and cyber forces. There also could be a military astronaut corps, though the specific roles of space fighters have yet to be defined.
If you love space or always wanted to be an astronaut, but can’t get a job at NASA or SpaceX, the Space Corps may be the place for you!
Would you like to join the nation’s newest military service? Why or why not?