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SPACE.com Columnist Leonard David

Trump Officially Establishes US Space Force with 2020 Defense Bill Signing

President Donald Trump signs S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 at Joint Base Andrews. The act directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
President Donald Trump signs S.1790, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 at Joint Base Andrews. The act directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.
(Image: © Airman 1st Class Spencer Slocum, 11th Wing Public Affairs)

President Trump has signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and with it directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force (USSF) as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

The Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force, much as the U.S. Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy. The new branch will be stood up over the next 18 months, military officials said.

"It was nearly half a century from Kitty Hawk to the creation of the Air Force. And now it's 50 years after Apollo 11 that we create the Space Force," Trump said during signing ceremonies at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday (Dec. 20), which you can watch here

Related: In Photos: President Donald Trump and NASA

"It's a big moment. That's a big moment, and we're all here for it," he added. "Space … going to be a lot of things happening in space. Because space is the world's newest warfighting domain. Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we're leading, but we're not leading by enough. But very shortly, we'll be leading by a lot. The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground."

Trump also said he will appoint Gen. Jay Raymond to be the first Chief of Space Operations, the senior military member of the new branch.

"And he will become the very first member of the Space Force," the president said. "He will be on the Joint Chiefs, which we're now expanding by one position. That's a very powerful position. So, General Raymond, congratulations, and thank you for you everything you've done."

'Strategic imperative'

"We are at the dawn of a new era for our nation's armed forces," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a statement. "The establishment of the U.S. Space Force is an historic event and a strategic imperative for our nation. Space has become so important to our way of life, our economy and our national security that we must be prepared as a nation to protect it from hostile actions."

Esper also stressed that the Space Force will help the United States prepare itself against threats in an "evolving space environment." Other military officials echoed his sentiments.

"In military operations, space is not just a place from which we support combat operations in other domains, but a warfighting domain in and of itself," Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in the same statement. "Our adversaries are building and deploying capabilities to threaten us, so we can no longer take space for granted. The U.S. Space Force is the necessary and essential step our nation will take to defend our national interests in space today and into the future."

"The launch of the U.S. Space Force propels the nation into a new era," Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, said in the same statement. "An agile, lean and technologically advanced force of talented professionals will now singularly focus on protecting our U.S. national interests and security in space."

The Air Force is making an effort on multiple fronts to get more agile and responsive to emerging space threats. For example, last month, the Air Force held its first-ever Space Pitch Day in San Francisco, awarding millions of dollars in on-the-spot contracts to companies developing various technologies that could aid the nation's space security.

Space capabilities

The Space Force will "maintain and enhance the competitive edge of the Department of Defense (DOD) in space while adapting to new strategic challenges," according to a newly released fact sheet issued by Space Force Public Affairs.

The Space Force will be headquartered at the Pentagon, like the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, the fact sheet states. And the Space Force's duties will be wide-ranging.

The newly created branch "organizes, trains and equips space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force," the fact sheet reads. "USSF responsibilities include developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power and organizing space forces to present to our Combatant Commands. 

You can watch a new video about the Space Force here.

Leonard David is author of the recently released book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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  • rod
    Admin said:
    President Trump has signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and with it directed the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.

    Trump Officially Establishes US Space Force with 2020 Defense Bill Signing : Read more

    1979, Roger Moore as James Bond in Moonraker :)
    Reply
  • Brian
    This boondoggle will die after the next election.
    It is an unaffordable waste with no valid mission!
    Kessler be damned, huh?
    Reply
  • Frank
    Don't you think that the Military as it stands today has to evolve? The current branches are historical legacies which may not be properly suited for the new challenges as our world transforms at an ever faster pace (not because of their inability to adapt, but because of the decades of rules and regulations they have to follow while having to surf as best as possible the hectic DC waters...).

    Space is a not only a growing "mess" but also becoming increasingly a conflict zone between competing economic and State powers. While it seems the Mission will indeed have to be further clarified, a new platform like the Space Force deserve a chance, the opportunity to build a team of motivated individuals who hopefully will approach things differently and eventually shape the debate about how to best approach the "conflictualization" of Space.


    Brian said:
    This boondoggle will die after the next election.
    It is an unaffordable waste with no valid mission!
    Kessler be damned, huh?
    Reply
  • SpectrumSphere
    Frank said:
    Don't you think that the Military as it stands today has to evolve? The current branches are historical legacies which may not be properly suited for the new challenges as our world transforms at an ever faster pace (not because of their inability to adapt, but because of the decades of rules and regulations they have to follow while having to surf as best as possible the hectic DC waters...).

    Space is a not only a growing "mess" but also becoming increasingly a conflict zone between competing economic and State powers. While it seems the Mission will indeed have to be further clarified, a new platform like the Space Force deserve a chance, the opportunity to build a team of motivated individuals who hopefully will approach things differently and eventually shape the debate about how to best approach the "conflictualization" of Space.

    FRANK. YOU ARE WISE
    EVER BEEN TO SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA?
    Reply
  • Frank
    SpectrumSphere said:
    FRANK. YOU ARE WISE
    EVER BEEN TO SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA?

    Not sure I fully grasp the question as it relates to the topic. All in capital letters, so should I assume it is sarcasm...? Oh well, I must be dense this evening :) Otherwise I do enjoy the Bay area with its unique combination of charm and 'opportunities'
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    SpectrumSphere said:
    FRANK. YOU ARE WISE
    EVER BEEN TO SAN FRANCISCO AND THE BAY AREA?

    I was stationed at Travis 40 miles away from Frisco. Travis was a nice base and I always had fun going to Frisco. It is pretty hard for anybody to live their though with the prices of everything. I remember in Vallejo it was $1200 a month just for a one bedroom apartment.
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    I think it is a good idea for a space force. I wish they would of had that when I joined the Air Force in the early 2,000s. I would rather get deployed to space then Iraq or Afghan.:D
    Reply
  • Error 1202
    So tired of winning. Now instead of funding JPL, University of Arizona and SpaceX, US space contract money can go to Department of Defense heavyweights like Lockheed, GD and Boeing. Projects that used to cost millions will now cost billions. Oh and tack on a few years to every project timeline while you're at it. 😔
    Reply
  • eccolibri60
    Truthseeker007 said:
    I was stationed at Travis 40 miles away from Frisco. Travis was a nice base and I always had fun going to Frisco. It is pretty hard for anybody to live their though with the prices of everything. I remember in Vallejo it was $1200 a month just for a one bedroom apartment.
    I graduated from Vallejo High School in 1979, while living on Mare Island Naval Ship Yard. Now the base is gone, and Vallejo is a crime-ridden shithole. But, yes, Travis and that area were nice. I started in the AF Reserves there.
    Reply
  • Truthseeker007
    eccolibri60 said:
    I graduated from Vallejo High School in 1979, while living on Mare Island Naval Ship Yard. Now the base is gone, and Vallejo is a crime-ridden shithole. But, yes, Travis and that area were nice. I started in the AF Reserves there.

    Nice,small world.lol!

    Last I was there was 2008 but I assume the crime is bad because of high housing costs and no jobs. Could be because people are lazy also.:D
    Reply