President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he is directing the Pentagon to a new ‘Space Force’ as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American dominance in space.
Trump envisioned a bright future for the US space program, pledging to revive the country’s flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars.
The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want ‘China and Russia and other countries leading us’.
Trump had previously suggested the possibility of creating a space unit that would include portions equivalent to parts of the Air Force, Army and Navy.
But his directive will task the Defense Department to begin the process of establishing the Space Force as the sixth branch of the US armed forces.
He said the new branch’s creation will be overseen by Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
‘When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,’ Trump said.
He added: ‘We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important’
The United States, however, is a member of the Outer Space Treaty, which bars the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space and only allows for the use of the moon and other celestial bodies for peaceful purposes.
‘My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. ‘The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers.’