Announcing the move today, Vice President Mike Pence said the Space Force would become the sixth branch of the US military and would herald “a new era of American national security in space”. The new command unit will work to “improve and evolve space war-fighting”, according to a Pentagon report published earlier this year. Headed by a four-star commander, Space Command will also oversee all of America’s military space operations across its existing military branches.
Expanding on the Trump administration’s plans for the new unit during a visit to Cape Canaveral today, Mr Pence warned that the US must act quickly to ensure it does not fall behind China and Russia for dominance of the stars.
Both nations have invested heavily in new weaponry – including missiles and lasers – which have the potential to disrupt or even destroy the US military’s network of satellites which are essential for communications, missile defence and GPS.
Mr Pence said the Space Force would draw on “space professionals from every branch”.
He said: “We’re working as we speak with leaders in both parties in Congress to stand up the United States Space Force before the end of 2020.
“While we’re taking these actions to ensure our nation’s security, and our future, we’ll be following the very best traditions of the past.”
During a visit to the Pentagon in August, Mr Pence said: “This new command structure for the physical domain of space, led by a four-star flag officer, will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future.”
But before Mr Trump’s Space Force becomes a reality, it will first need the approval of Congress.
Some lawmakers have expressed concerns over the cost of the new military branch, with some estimates placing it as high as $13 billion.
However Trump administration officials have insisted it could be set up for less than $5 billion.
Announcing his plans for a Space Force earlier this year, Mr Trump said the new branch would be “separate but equal” to the Air Force.
Speaking in July, he said: “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”