Trump orders creation of new military branch: ‘Space Force’
President Donald Trump wants to create Space Force, a sixth branch of the military that would likely boost U.S. military capabilities and weaponry in space—if congress approves it.
Add this to the list of things you never expected to be able to say in 2018: “Screw it, I’m joining Space Force.”
On Monday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that seeks to establish Space Force as a “separate but equal” sixth branch of the military, a move he framed as a strategic, preemptive play in the inevitable militarization of space.
Space is “going to be important monetarily and militarily,” Trump said. “We don’t want China and Russia and other countries leading us. We’ve always led—we’ve gone way far afield for decades now.”
The Pentagon responded to the directive, which still needs congressional approval, with a statement:
“Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in the statement. “Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders.”
Trump’s vision of a discrete, militarized space force isn’t entirely new. In June 2017, the House Armed Services Committee proposed the establishment of a new branch of the military calls space corps, which would have boosted the capabilities and operations of the Air Force Space Command, currently the chief organization of military operations in space.
But Secretary of Defense James Mattis shot the idea down with a suggestion to Congress that it was “premature.”
“I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions,” Mattis said in a memo to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On Monday, Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, tweeted that now is not the time to create a new military branch.
The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want. Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake. https://t.co/uYzqg1W8nE— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) June 18, 2018
Russia and China are also ramping up space capabilities. Putin has claimed his military is developing a hypersonic glide vehicle that can be launched into space, evade detection from U.S. defense systems, and, potentially, deploy a nuclear warhead.
Meanwhile, China has been developing anti-satellite systems that could take out U.S. spacecraft, according to a 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Defense.
“These systems consist of a satellite armed with a weapon such as an explosive charge, fragmentation device, kinetic energy weapon, laser, radio frequency weapon, jammer, or robotic arm,” read the report.
Whether the president’s push to militarize space will balance out these global efforts or escalate tensions remains to be seen.
In any case, China, Russia, and the U.S. have all agreed to the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits putting weapons of mass destruction in space or militarizing celestial bodies. However, the U.S. declined to sign onto a 2014 Chinese-Russian treaty proposal that would have banned space weapons, deeming it “fundamentally flawed.”
Trump also signed a Space Policy Directive that seeks to establish new protocols to monitor and manage space debris and satellites in low-Earth orbit. Two previous directives from the administration have called for humans to return to the moon and a reduction in bureaucratic red tape for commercial space activity.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
It's a "canary in the coalmine," said one climate scientist.
- A team of researchers discovered that permafrost in Northern Canada is melting at unusually fast rates.
- This could causes dangerous and costly erosion, and it's likely speeding up climate change because thawing permafrost releases heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere.
- This week, Canada's House of Commons declared a national climate emergency.
One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".
- Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
- Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
- A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
Not every part of a satellite burns up in reentry. Considering the growing number of satellites in orbital space, that's a big problem.
- Earth's orbital space is getting more crowded by the day.
- The more satellites and space junk we put into orbit, the greater a risk that there could be a collision.
- Not all materials burn up during reentry; that's why scientists need to stress test satellite parts to ensure that they won't become deadly falling objects.
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