Space force

7 facts about the United States Space Force

On December 20, 2019, Donald Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, creating a sixth branch of the United States military: the United States Space Force (USSF). Reactions were mixed. Proponents heralded the dawn of a brave new era of space power, while critics called it an unnecessary and costly campaign ploy that could spark an arms race in space. Most of the time, people posted memes.

Humanity’s growing presence in space – or at least in high Earth orbit – has presented a host of potential problems and points of conflict. And the concept of protecting assets in space is nothing new. For decades, the US, Chinese, and Russian militaries have all invested significant resources in defending orbital assets and weaponizing space.

Russia has had variants of a dedicated space force since the early 1990s, starting with Russian space forces. In 2015, Russia merged its Space Force with the Russian Air Force, creating more cohesive and integrated Russian Aerospace Forces. China, meanwhile, established its PLA Strategic Support Force in 2015, which is responsible for space, cyber and electronic warfare. While China and Russia both had dedicated and largely independent military weapons for their space forces prior to the creation of the USSF, the United States was not entirely behind. The USSF had actually existed within the US Air Force since 1982, as the Air Force Space Command.

The USSF will not fight in space, at least not yet, and certainly not with space marines and boots on the moon. Todd Harrison, who directs the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told NPR, “It’s not about sending military personnel into space, it has nothing to do with NASA, it’s not about protecting Earth from asteroids or aliens. “Space Force is more about protecting assets in orbit, such as satellites that gather intelligence, facilitate communications, detect missile launches, and provide GPS targeting for missiles.

General John W. Raymond of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force
United States Air Force and United States Space Force General John W. Raymond / David Grim, US Air Force // Public domain, Wikimedia Commons

The highest ranking officer in the Space Force is the Chief of Space Operations (CSO). In January 2020, General John W. Raymond was sworn in as the first CSO – and first official member – of the Space Force. The 16,000 people assigned to the Space Force after Raymond’s appointment were all members of the former Air Force Space Command. Despite Trump’s description of space as a “domain of warfare” and his calls for “American dominance in space”, General Raymond was quick to point out that Space Force’s goal is to dissuade a conflict from spreading into space, while adding that he was ready to fight if necessary.

In June 2020, the USSF released its first doctrine for space forces, titled Space power [PDF]. It’s a slightly surreal read, with shades of Starship Troopers (book or movie, take your pick) and sub-chapters covering everything from “War’s Enduring Nature” to “Space Warfighters” and “Art of Space Warfare”. And while the doctrine assures the reader that the United States “desires a peaceful, secure, stable, and accessible domain of space,” it doesn’t shy away from the fact that the Space Force is a military branch. For example: “Space Mastery makes the military space community more lethal by improving the speed and focus of military space power.”

When the new Space Force seal was unveiled, social media had a lot of fun pointing out how much it looked like that of star trekStarfleet Command. They are very similar, true, but the Space Force seal was based on the existing Air Force Space Command logo, which dates back to 1982. The delta wing design of the seal, meanwhile, has been used by space organizations since 1961, five years before. the first episode of star trek created.

US Space Force combat utility uniform.
US Space Force combat utility uniform. /United States Space Force Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

The motto of the Space Force, Semper Supra, means “Always on top”. According to the official Space Force Twitter accountthe motto “represents [Space Force’s] role in establishing, maintaining, and preserving the United States’ freedom of operations in space. For some people, this seems gallant, fiery and reassuring. But it’s also possible to put an Orwellian twist on the Space Force motto, if one feels cynical about the ever-increasing number of surveillance satellites. Viewed in a more sinister light, “Always Above” has a sort of “we’re still watching you” vibe.

In February 2020, the Air Force Department released a proposed $169 billion budget for 2021. For the first time, the budget included funding for the fledgling Space Force, which had requested $15.4 billion. dollars. The Space Force budget included funding for missile warning satellites, next-generation GPS, and the development of a new tactical communications system. He also requested funding for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, which seeks private companies – such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin – to launch US military and spy satellites into orbit.