US President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a special Space Force as the sixth branch of the US military. He Said, “There’s no place like space” addressing the National Space Council in Washington on Monday.
He announced a number of initiatives, including a push to establish a “permanent presence” on the Moon, with an eye to a manned Mars mission. But the biggest one was the creation of a new military branch, to operate in what the president termed “forbidden skies.” He declared that America was “first in flight, first to the Moon,” and “will always be first in space.”
“It is not enough to have the American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump declared, calling it a matter of national security. To that end, he has directed General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to begin preparations for making the Space Force a “separate but equal” branch of the US military, alongside the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
However, the announcement made a storm of interesting response on Twitter, some critics couldn’t resist jumping on that phrase, which has unfortunate connotations in the US, having been associated with decades of justifying racial segregation.
— RufusKings1776 (@RufusKings1776) June 18, 2018
Others objected to the Space Force as too expensive and argued that space should be left to scientists. For most, however, the idea of establishing a Space Force served as the perfect opportunity to post memes associated with science fiction films and TV shows, from Star Wars and Star Trek to Avatar and Starship Troopers.
Rather than ya know actually spend on education, health care or infrastructure, Trump just pulled “Space Force” out of his ass. It’s so GOP to invent new ways to overfund the world’s biggest military by far.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) June 18, 2018
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) June 18, 2018
— JB (@JoeBalat) June 18, 2018
— A.Darvai (@ADarvai) June 18, 2018
Even if the Pentagon proceeds to implement Trump’s directive at hyperspeed, there are two obstacles to “make it so” and overcoming them will be tougher than making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.
One is legal. The Outer Space Treaty, to which the US has been a party since 1967, bans states from testing any weapons in outer space or establishing military bases on the Moon and other celestial bodies. It also prohibits the deployment of any weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit. The US has unilaterally withdrawn from treaties before, however, and Trump could just channel Emperor Palpatine and declare, “I will make it legal.”
The more immediate problem, however, is that the Space Force has no ships. The US Space Shuttle program was shut down in 2011. Since then, the only way American astronauts can get into space has been aboard the Russian Soyuz-MS spacecraft. That leaves Trump with the only solution, to have the Space Force initially composed of droids and drones. So, “let’s see what happens.” as the trump says so often.