The US Space Force has a new leader.
Thursday (September 29), the Senate confirmed unanimously Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman as Chief of Space Operations for the space force. Saltzman succeeds General John “Jay” Raymond, who led the country’s newest military branch since its inception in December 2019.
Raymond will retire, ending a 38-year military career, according to Space News (opens in a new tab).
Related: US Space Force creates new unit to track ‘threats in orbit’
Saltzman, who entered the military in 1991, “has extensive operational experience in missile and space systems as a Minuteman III launch officer and as a satellite operator for the National Reconnaissance Office,” said Space Force officials. written in July (opens in a new tab), shortly after President Joe Biden appointed him to the Space Force’s top job. “He also served as the first Chief of Combat Plans for the Joint Space Operations Center, and later as Chief of Combat Operations.”
As of August 2020, Saltzman served as Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear. It’s a pretty big job; in it, Saltzman had “overall responsibility for Space Force operations, intelligence, sustainment, cyber and nuclear operations,” Space Force officials wrote.
The Space Force is the first new American military branch since the Air Force, created in 1947. The Space Force is officially part of the Air Force, just as the Marine Corps is part of the US Navy.
Space Force Members, called guardiansare trained to “conduct global space operations that improve how our joint and coalition forces fight, while providing decision-makers with military options to achieve national goals,” according to the mission of the service (opens in a new tab).
Space Force work is increasingly important these days, U.S. officials said, noting that the final frontier is becoming a highly contested area. Russia and China are working hard, they say, to challenge the longstanding status of the United States as the greatest space power in the world.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).