What Threats Would The Space Force Confront
So, what threats would the US Space Force confront? The biggie is America’s not-unimpressive satellite collection, a smorgasbord of orbiting technology upon which just about everything you love depends: smart phones, electronic payment systems, and the always in-vogue services of Sirius XM Radio. Back in 2007, China killed two birds with one stone by both knocking their own pesky, disused weather satellite out of the sky with a missile strike and proving that they could hit, gosh, anything in orbit that struck their fancy, should the spirit move them.
That, according to General Jay Raymond, is just the sort of thing that current military branches are ill-equipped to deal with. “They shot down a satellite using an ASAT,” he said in an interview with Breaking Defense. “We have to be able to be prepared to respond to that full range.” It’s also worth mentioning, as former ISS Commander Terry Verts did in an NPR interview, that the destruction of just that first satellite has already had consequences. The International Space Station has had to be maneuvered specifically to avoid debris from the incident, and the potential for wreckage to take out other satellites remains real.
That’s the pragmatic answer. The Space Force could be in charge of space garbage and deterring the creation of more space garbage. Life isn’t always as spicy as you hope it will be.
I Was Not Really Serious
President Trump outlined the genesis of the United States Space Force project in an address to a group of Marines in March 2018. As quoted by The Atlantic, he stated the following: “I was saying it the other day ’cause we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the Space Force.’ And I was not really serious. And then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.’ “
Yes, like the and every David Lynch film, the US Space Force started out as a goof before snowballing into something that everyone took seriously, including the person who came up with it in the first place. That being said, this is far from the first time that America has tried to militarize Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s favorite stomping ground.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for civil spaceflight. NASA and the Space Force’s predecessors in the Air Force have a long-standing cooperative relationship, with the Space Force supporting NASA launches out of Kennedy Space Center, to include range support and rescue operations from Task Force 45. NASA and the Space Force also partner on matters such as space domain awareness and planetary defense operations. Space Force members can be NASA astronauts, with Colonel Michael S. Hopkins, the commander of SpaceX Crew-1, commissioned into the Space Force from the International Space Station on 18 December 2020.
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Appointment And Tour Length
Four-star grades go hand-in-hand with the positions of office to which they are linked, so the rank is temporary the active rank of general can only be held for so long- though upon retirement, if satisfactory service requirements are met, the general or admiral is normally allowed to hold that rank in retirement, rather than reverting to a lower position, as was formerly usually the case. Their active rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is usually set by statute. Generals are nominated for the appointment by the from any eligible officers holding the rank of brigadier general or above who meet the requirements for the position, with the advice of the , service secretary , and if applicable the . For some positions, statute allows the President to waive those requirements for a nominee deemed to serve national interests. The nominee must be confirmed by the before the appointee can take office and assume the rank.General ranks may also be given by act of Congress but this is extremely rare. The standard tour for most general positions is three years, bundled as a two-year term plus a one-year extension, with the following exceptions:
- Service chiefs serve for four years in one four-year term.
- The serves a nominal four years.
Why Do We Need It
The White House points to galactic threats from US adversaries, particularly Russia and China, which could develop weapons to jam, blind or destroy satellites that are crucial to communications systems. In 2007, China destroyed one of its own satellites, in a test of a weapon that could be used to target others. Russia has also tested a missile that could be used to track and destroy satellites. Not everyone is convinced, however, with critics saying threats on earth are much more real than the prospect of wars in space. Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarize outer space, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders said on Twitter.
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Can I Join Space Force
Space Force initially consisted of former Air Force Space Command personnel, then over the next year, units from other parts of the Air Force transferred in. As of September 2021, there were 6,490 active-duty Guardians, including 86 Air Force Academy graduates who commissioned directly into Space Force. Demand for jobs is high chief of Space Force operations General John W. Jay Raymond said that the 400 positions open for transfers from other services drew 3,700 applications. In a recent poll of first-year Air Force Academy cadets about what theyd like to do as officers, Space Force came in second to pilot, Politico reported.
Though competition for Space Force jobs is already tough, the service is still trying to attract talented recruits. Unsurprisingly, these efforts have been a hokey and misleading at times: Space Forces first recruiting video concluded, Maybe your purpose on this planet isnt on this planet.
To be clear, if you join Space Force, you will almost certainly remain on this planet rather than blasting off in one of the multiple space shuttles featured in the video, youll probably be sitting in front of a computer on Earth, maintaining the satellite shown at the end. But thats still an important and pretty cool job.
This piece was updated to include the official song of Space Force.
How Did Space Force Get Started
The idea for a cosmic military branch captured widespread attention after an aside by Trump, who first used the term “space force” in public during an address to US Marines in March 2018.
“We’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, and I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it the Space Force,” Trump said during the speech. “I was not really serious, and then I said, ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.'”
Three months later, Trump made it clear he was serious. At a meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Pence, the Department of Defense was directed to begin the process of forming a sixth branch of the military.
“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space,” Trump said. “We must have American dominance in space.”
The president doesn’t have the authority to create a military service on his own. That’s a job for Congress, which hadn’t done so since 1947 when, with President Harry Truman’s signature, it spun the Air Force out of the Army.
In addition, Pence said during his speech announcing the plan that the Space Council would work with the National Security Council to “remove red tape” around the rules of engagement in space. This could be construed as looking for a way around the insistence of the international Outer Space Treaty that all activities in space be peaceful.
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What The Space Force Is And Isn’t
The newest branch of the military is still mired in explaining to the public what it does.
In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force, Capt. Ryan Vickers stands for a photo at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. | Staff Sgt. Kayla White/U.S. Air Force via AP
02/03/2021 11:15 PM EST
The year-old Space Force has taken on galactic proportions in the public imagination, ranging from visions of American troops digging trenches on the moon to spaceships patrolling other worlds in the name of democracy.
It is also still closely associated with former President Donald Trump, who championed it as a major policy goal and a popular rallying cry on the campaign trail, fueling its potential as a punchline and a Hollywood parodyand even drawing the service in with its otherworldly ad campaign.
While cosmic ambitions are the long-term vision of some military space strategists, the Space Forces primary mission these days seems to be separating fact from fiction, and often science fiction.
People get confused between what NASA does and what the military does, said former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who oversaw the establishment of the new service. I think probably some of the recruiting advertising may have contributed to that somewhat. There was something about maybe your purpose on this Earth isnt on this Earth.
So heres a quick primer on what the Space Force is and what it isnt.
Is The Space Force Logo Really From Star Trek
The Space Force logo is a prime example of how Trump undermined the legitimacy of the service before it even really got started. In August 2018, when the Pentagon was still working on proposals for how the new branch might function, the Trump reelection campaign invited supporters to vote on its logo.
The Trump campaign wants people to vote on a new logo for @realDonaldTrump‘s proposed #SpaceForce and they want you to buy a new “line of gear.” Setting aside questions about the appropriateness of all this, keep in mind there may never be a Space Force.
As The Atlanticnoted at the time, these designs were a Trumpian exercise in misleading branding, particularly Mars Awaits, as space exploration is still NASAs domain. Plus, once people voted in the poll, they were invited to give to Trumps campaign, possibly leaving donors with the false impression that they were paying for the opportunity to help select the new logo.
Sure enough, when Space Force unveiled its official seal in January 2020, it was not one of the options presented to Trump supporters. But the seal generated a new controversy, as it looked suspiciously like the Star Trek insignia. Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this original series cast member George Takei joked on Twitter.
The Trump administration’s new Space Force logo looks a lot like another space visual: the Star Trek insignia.
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The Space Force’s Sticker Price
So what’s the Space Force setting us back? Ballpark, that is? If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. The Department of Defense’s budget request for the 2021 fiscal year asks for a cool $15 billion specifically for the purposes of developing the Space Force. Yes, that’s a lot of cheddar roughly $45 per person in the United States. And what’s it paying for?
Among the line items in the proposed budget are five launches, two to place GPS satellites and three for secretive national security projects. Those would run a total of $3.4 billion. A further $2.5 billion would go toward infrared missile detection systems. The rest, in theory, would likely be put toward bumping the project’s work force from 160 people to somewhere over 10,000, according to TechCrunch.
And if you’re getting hit with sticker shock, it might help to know that the official Space Force has promised to save taxpayer dollars by utilizing previously designed uniforms. Like the old saying goes, save a penny here, a penny there, eventually you can buy yourself a nice rocketship army.
First Uncertainty Now Momentum
While the legislation passed the House, the space corps bid did not make it into the final NDAA bill in November.
“It’s not clear how aware Trump might be about the work that had already been ongoing in Congress along these same lines,” Todd Harrison, director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC.
“It’s also not clear if he even realized that his own administration or at least a part of his administration had come out against this proposal when it was being debated in Congress last year,” Harrison added.
And even though Trump didn’t elaborate on what a U.S. space force would look like, experts say it’s only a matter of time before a program of this magnitude begins to take shape.
“Given what has happened in Congress last year and the president’s more recent comments, the momentum is building and this will happen sooner rather than later,” Harrison said.
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Early Life And Education
Born and raised in , Thompson graduated in in 1981. He got his Bachelor of Science, majoring in , from the in , and graduated in 1985. In 1989, he received his graduate degree of Master of Science in aeronautics and astronautics from in , . He is also an , graduate of the Senior Acquisition Course and a Level III-Certified Program Manager.
Thompson received his commission as a in the from the in 1985. He is a career space officer with assignments in operations, research and development, acquisition, and academia. He has commanded operational space units at the squadron, group, and wing levels.
A month after his commissioning, he was assigned in July 1985 to the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at , . For three years after getting his graduate degree, he was an instructor on astronautics in the U.S. Air Force Academy, assigned as the executive officer of the Department of Astronautics of the academy. From 1995 to 1998, he served at as a program manager.
With the redesignation of the AFSPC as the newly created on December 20, 2019, Thompson retained his position as vice commander of the Space Force. In August 2020, he was nominated for transfer to the Space Force at his current rank of . He was also nominated for appointment to the rank of and assignment as the first . He was confirmed by the on September 30, 2020, and assumed rank following day. Thompson assumed office on October 2.
Buckley Air National Guard Base
In June 1959, the Department of the Navy planned to close thirty Naval Air Reserve stations as part of budget cutting measures, including Naval Air Station Denver. On 18 April 1960, the base was turned over to the Department of the Air Force, becoming Buckley Air National Guard Base, the first stand-alone Air National Guard base in the United States Air Force. The United States Navy continued to maintain a Naval Air Reserve Center at the base. During the 1960s, development edged toward Buckley and the land of the air base was annexed to Aurora in 1965 and 1966.
In spring 1969, the United States Air Force began development on the Defense Support Program ground station, beginning Buckley’s space history. The first DSP satellites were launched in November 1970 and the ground station began operations in 1971. The 140th Tactical Fighter Wing transitioned to the LTV A-7 Corsair II in 1973, and in 1992, the 140th Tactical Fighter Wing became the 140th Fighter Wing and began transitioning to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. It later became the 140th Wing in 1955. In December 2001, a new Defense Support Program and Space-Based Infrared System ground station was activated.
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United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit-Colorado was commissioned at Buckley Space Force Base on 3 October 2007 and conduct technical training and analysis of the maritime domain in support of tactical and operational fleet commands, the Coast Guard Intelligence enterprise, and combatant commanders. In conjunction with their daily analytical duties, members of the unit simultaneously develop, train and refine their cryptologic skills to support future afloat operations in the Coast Guard.
United States Space Command
United States Space Command is the unified combatant command for all military space operations, while the Space Force is the military service responsible for organizing, training, and equipping the majority of forces for U.S. Space Command. The Space Force’s service component to Space Command is Space Operations Command, providing the majority of space forces. U.S. Space Command also consists of smaller amounts of forces from the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and United States Air Force. This mirrors the relationship between the Space Force’s predecessor, Air Force Space Command, and U.S. Space Command .
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How Big Is It
If space is vast, the military branch now responsible for it was purposely designed to be relatively small by Pentagon standards, due to concerns in both parties about creating another out-of-control military bureaucracy.
It now has 16,000 personnel, known as guardians, making it by far the smallest military branch. By comparison, the size of the Marine Corps is roughly 180,000 men and women under arms.
And while it is a separate branch, the Space Force falls under the Air Force Department, which handles about 75 percent of its support functions, such as logistics, personnel management, and business and IT systems. Again the best analogy would be the Marine Corps, which is also a separate service but is part of the Navy Department.
The Space Forces first annual budget, for the fiscal year that began in October, was $15.5 billion. Thats roughly 0.02 percent of the annual Pentagon budget.