Space force

Everything you need to know about the United States Space Force

Even before the creation of the Air Force as an independent branch of the military, the armed forces of the United States envisioned space as the next potential field of military operations. While space might seem like a logical extension of air, it wasn’t immediately clear which branch should or would support the emerging domain.

In the years following World War II, the Army and Navy, in addition to the new Air Force, struggled for control of military operations in space. In fact, the first US satellite to reach orbit – Explorer 1 – was launched by the military in 1958. Shortly thereafter, the Naval Research Laboratory launched Vanguard 1, which remains in orbit today and is the oldest artificial satellite in the world still in orbit.

After the successes of the Army and Navy in launching satellites, the Air Force doubled its right to retain ownership of military space and in the early 1960s President Kennedy honored this demand, giving the Air Force primary dominance among military organizations (via JFK Library).

In 1982, control of space was formalized with the creation of Air Force Space Command, later US Space Command. This organization, which is still part of the Air Force, would maintain military control of space for most of the next four decades.