More than 8,500 active-duty Air Force service members have volunteered to join the U.S. Space Force — the nation's newest military branch.
"I am incredibly proud of the men and women who made the bold decision to volunteer to join the U.S. Space Force and defend the ultimate high ground," Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, said in a statement.
The military branch announced June 9 that the applicants included a mix of officers and enlisted personnel from 13 career fields. In addition, approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former U.S. Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the Space Force. This transfer process will officially commission or enlist military members into the Space Force, according to the statement.
"It is a critical time for space, and those airmen will build the Space Force necessary to compete, deter, and win as required to meet the needs of the National Defense Strategy," Raymond said.
However, not all volunteer applicants will be accepted. The Space Force is reviewing transfer applications, Air Force Specialty Codes, and rank requirements to determine who will be selected for transfer. The service expects that approximately 6,000 of the applicants will be selected.
A notification will be sent out in July explaining the next steps for those who are accepted. Depending on the career field, transfers will begin as early as Sept. 1, 2020.
"We are excited to continue to move forward and build the ranks of the Space Force with these great volunteers," Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, senior enlisted advisor, U.S. Space Force, said in the statement. "Our priority over the next several months is to ensure we optimize the talent of both services and offer a transition that is seamless and befitting each individual and their loved one's commitment to our Space Force."
All active-duty space operations missions and functions are expected to transfer to the Space Force. Airmen in space-focused career fields who declined to transfer into the Space Force will have the option to transition to non-space jobs in the Air Force, go to the reserve components, or apply for separation or retirement. This transition period is expected to be complete by 2022, according to the statement.
While the current focus is on transferring Air Force members to the Space Force, Army and Navy personnel will also have the opportunity to transfer in 2022 – 2023.
- 'Get a haircut,' real Space Force chief tells Netflix 'Space Force' star Steve Carell
- Can we prevent war in space? These guidelines may help.
- Military space: spacecraft, weapons and tech
For a limited time, you can take out a digital subscription to any of our best-selling science magazines for just $2.38 per month, or 45% off the standard price for the first three months.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.