On June 18, 2018, President Trump made a declaration that will maybe become one of the largest impacting government moves ever. He directed the Pentagon and Defense department to immediately begin to create and establish a "Space Force" as the 6th branch of the military.
However, as an avid lover of the Cosmos, I just wanted to clarify somethings before everyone goes off to sign up as storm troopers (because you for sure won't be joining a rebel alliance.)
The first point I want to make is that this is not a new idea.
Military branches and private companies already spend oodles of money on outer space equipment and operations.
For years now, private companies have been hired for military contracts. Space X has been awarded billions in military contracts by outbidding NASA for satellite launches.
The Air Force already spends around 7 billion annually on unclassified space systems, that is not counting any classified projects (which a new space plan or satellite would fall under.)
So looking at this from a business viewpoint, as our businessman President would, the creation of a space military force seems like a great idea. Now the military can use those contracts with private companies to create a physical "dominating" presence in space. We are showing the world that we are taking our future (which is in space) very seriously.
However, as many space nerds will want to point out, military action in space is against the law. What these space nerds are talking about is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, signed by members of the U.N. to provide a framework for space law.
Basically, it made space open to all mankind. Any discovery, any exploration, really any use of outer space was for the benefit of all the countries of earth. This made space "free" for everyone. It states that any celestial body should be for peaceful purposes. Space can not be the place for nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. Also, all astronauts are to be envoys of all of mankind.
The treaty was really created so that Russia and America would not send nukes up into space to bomb each other. Or to use space to test nukes.
However, the Treaty does not outlaw a military presence in space. The treaty only says that exploration or use of space should be for peaceful purposes. So for as long as Space Force does not start to wage war on aliens and other countries in space. The treaty says it is fine.
This brings us to international law on military presence. The United States has the greatest number of military bases around the world. Right now, there are over 800 military bases outside of the United States with some of those having nuclear weapons.
Since space is international territory, the United States is within its rights to create a military base in outer space.
Space force is legal, yes it does fall under humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict, but legally it is ok just on very rocky ground. Let's talk about some of the real reasons for it.
Thanks to our military satellites, props to you SpaceX for the cheap launches, we already have a military presence in space.
One of the biggest reasons for a space force is to defend our assets in space.
There are roughly 2,300 satellites in outer space right now. Russia is dominating the satellite game with more than half of all the satellites belonging to the motherland, 1,300. The US is in second place at around 700.
Of course, there is no saying how many of those are military satellites or how many of the military ones aren't officially counted in that number. Theoretically, there could be a thousand more satellites that different countries use for their military.
But besides satellites, what else is the need?
There may be other needs, but the protection of our assets in space needs to be prioritized.
If a war broke out over the pacific, then a foreign power shot one of our satellites down. We would have zero way to contact our forces. This vulnerability does go both ways, but the threat of losing contact with forces during a crucial moment in a potential way could be the difference between winning and losing.
Of course, space is also more than just the area around the earth. There is a small area around earth that if controlled by a "space force" would control the entire cosmos beyond it.
Usually outer space starts at about 100 miles above the ground. At that point, the atmosphere no longer has a meaningful enough presence to be considered so effectively that is where outer space starts. However, any "sky" below that boundary of the atmosphere is considered the territory of the country below it. Military vehicles can not transverse the atmosphere over another country..... but if it was in space……space is international territory, so it would be ok.
This starts to cause so many problems with potential orbits of military satellites and Space Force stations.
A lot of satellites that have been launched by other countries can be used for military purposes. Russia has a several suspicious satellites with rare orbits and maneuvers that suggest they could be used for military purposes.
Even though weapons are banned. People forget that a satellite could become a weapon. An average satellite weighs over 7,000 pounds. That is a big object that can crash into other satellites or suicide itself to the ground. So potentially there are 2,300 missiles in the outer space waiting for some radical to take control of its orbit and send it into a collision course with a city on the ground.
The future of our modern warfare is really in the control of information. Control of outer space would control the information of the entire earth. We use satellites for everything and a military force in space would be able to control those satellites.
Now most countries, who we would be afraid of in war, depend heavily on satellites. However, the United States is in a unique position that we usually wage war far from our own borders. Our dependence is much higher than countries like China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
This dependence on satellites to communicate and access information of on ground events makes our access to space very important. If another country, like Russia, was to create a space force and gain control of space in a way that would limit or destroy our access to outer space and information from satellites. We would be in a terrible position to defend ourselves.
Therefore, Trump has created Space Force. Of course, the cost and actual fabrication of this defensive arm of the military is some way in the future.
Our future depends on the access we have to outer space.
Space Force guarantees that access.
Both outer space and information domains are the future areas where the battles are fought. Military actions in those areas will have even more impact than traditional military operations on the ground.
Our future is in space.
Space Force will defend our future.