Trump creates 'Space Command' to organise extra-terrestrial military defence

This program used to exist, and the president is now resurrecting it

Kristin Hugo
New York
Tuesday 18 December 2018 21:31 GMT
(AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has officially ordered the creation of Space Command at the Pentagon - the first step on the way to a US Space Force - an organisation that could cost around $800 million over the next five years.

This memorandum the president has signed actually functions as a resurrection of The US Space Command, which existed from 1985 to 2002.

When it was disbanded, the US Strategic Command took over its roles. The new Space Command would be separate, and at the same level as the Strategic Command.

"A new era of American national security in space begins today," Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Space Command is designed to oversee space operations, improve technical advances, and to defend US assets, like satellites, in space.

The Space Command was resurrected, in part, among growing concern that China and Russia have been considering attacking US space satellites. In November, a US diplomat explained that a Russian satellite was acting strangely, and may be some sort of space weapon.

The vice president said the military will use the foundation provided by the Air Force, which has been "a magnificent steward of our military space capabilities" and build on that with "space professionals from every branch."

“While we're taking these actions to ensure our nation's security, and our future, we'll be following the very best traditions of the past,” Mr Pence said.

Space Command is not the same as the Space Force, which is a branch of the US Armed Forces that Mr Trump proposed in June. The Space Force has not yet come to fruition, as Congress would have to approve its creation. However, the administration says that the Space Command is a step in that direction.

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva are expected to brief key members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees and Defense appropriations subcommittee

According to one US official, the Space Command would use about 600 staff from current military space offices and then add about 1,000 more. Mr Trump plans to appoint a general or admiral to lead the Space Command.

The Joint Functional Component Command for Space is located in Colorado, where the Space Command would likely be based.

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