“More than by any other imaginative concept, the mind of man is aroused by the thought of exploring the mysteries of outer space. Through such exploration, man hopes to broaden his horizons, add to his knowledge, improve his way of living on earth.” — President Dwight Eisenhower, June 20, 1958
We all have enjoyed the countless memes and jokes that have come from the news surrounding the creation of the ‘Space Force,’ but what do we really know about it?
The proposed ‘Space Force’ would be an additional branch of the armed forces and would most likely play a vital role in defending Earth from potential asteroid impact threats. On June 20th, 2018, NASA and other federal officials released “The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan;” an 18-page plan that revealed what the United States should do over the next 10 years to protect Earth from potential impacts. This document recognizes the Trump Administration’s National Strategy for Space, declaring that it identifies near-Earth object hazards and “directs agencies to undertake efforts to promote U.S. scientific, economic, and security interests, including alleviation of space environmental hazards such as near-Earth objects.” Previously in 2010, the National Space Policy directed the NASA Administrator to pursue capabilities in cooperation with other departments and agencies to detect, track, catalog, and characterize near-Earth objects. Although both documents never mentioned the ‘Space Force’ by name, it stands as a representation that any national effort to defend Earth from potential impact threats is going to involve at least some military equipment and expertise in space.
Pending the creation and approval of the ‘Space Force’ as the sixth branch of the armed forces, the ‘Space Force’ would work closely with NASA and oversee U.S. military operations in space, which is currently managed by the Air Force. With a potential budget of $150 million, the funds would support NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a mission that would launch in December 2020 to visit the near-Earth asteroid nicknamed Didymos. As planned, DART would crash into Didymos to test a deflection technique. The international community has recognized this problem as well, creating missions similar to NASA’s DART.
There is no doubt that the Trump Administration’s National Space Strategy is aimed at protecting the nation’s unrestricted access and freedom to operate in space, but due to the world’s growing dependance on interconnected space capabilities, increasing our knowledge and experience in space is also a primary goal.
The utilization of space has “helped save lives by warning us of natural disasters, expediting search and rescue operations, and making recovery efforts faster and more effective…provided global access to advanced medicine, weather forecasting, and geospatial information.” Space systems allow governments around the world to more efficiently and accurately communicate, navigate and operate. So whether or not the ‘Space Force’ actually becomes the sixth branch of the armed forces, the importance of our presence and continuing knowledge of space is more important now than ever.
Berman, Russell. “Does the U.S. Military Need a Space Corps?” The Atlantic. 8 Aug 2017. Web. 21 June, 2018.
Malik, Tariq. “How Trump’s Space Force Would Help Protect Earth from Future Asteroid Threats.” Space.com. 20 June 2018. Web. 21 June 2018.
National Science & Technology Council. “National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan.” June 2018. (p. 1-18). whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/National-Near-Earth-Object-Preparedness-Strategy-and-Action-Plan-23-pages-1MB.pdf
“National Space Policy of the United States of America.” 28 June 2010. (p. 1-14). nasa.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10.pdf
“President Donald J. Trump is Unveiling an America First National Space Strategy.” The White House, 23 March 2018. whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-unveiling-america-first-national-space-strategy/
“Trump’s ‘Space Force’ is No Joke. It Might Even Work.” Bloomberg. 21 June 2018. Web. 21 June 2018.