As part of its version of the 2018 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee voted to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces: the U.S. Space Corps, which would absorb the Air Force’s current space missions, will focus on military maneuvers beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
The plan, which could be implemented as soon as January 2019, has been developed as part of a radical reorganization of the US Air Force.
Several members of the congressional committee claimed to be blindsided by the proposal, and attempted to slow down the changes until they heard testimony from US Defense Secretary James Mattis. The challenge was later dropped, however.
Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he only learned about the proposal last week, when it first came before the subcommittee on strategic forces.
Turner’s Republican colleague Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) argued that the plan had been in development since the publication of the Rumsfeld Commission report, a study outlining future US space strategy, in 2001.
Under the plan, all operations involving the Air Force’s secretive X-37B spaceplane would fall under the control of the US Space Corps. The X-37B, which looks like a small Space Shuttle orbiter, is due to launch again in August after its last flight lasted a record 718 days.
The space corps, which would be the first new military service since 1947, is not specifically banned by the Outer Space Treaty, a 1967 international agreement outlawing the use of the moon and other celestial bodies from being used as military outposts.
Rumsfeld Commission Warns Against "Space Pearl Harbor"
"Those hostile to the U.S. possess, or can acquire on the global market, the means to deny, disrupt or destroy U.S. space systems by attacking satellites in space, communications links to and from the ground or ground stations that command the satellites and process their data. Therefore, the U.S. must develop and maintain intelligence collection capabilities and an analysis approach that will enable it to better understand the intentions and motivations as well as the capabilities of potentially hostile states and entities," it added.
"The Commissioners appreciate the sensitivity that surrounds the notion of weapons in space for offensive or defensive purposes. They also believe, however, that to ignore the issue would be a disservice to the nation. The Commissioners believe the U.S. Government should vigorously pursue the capabilities called for in the National Space Policy to ensure that the President will have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats to and, if necessary, defend against attacks on U.S. interests."
Report of the Commission to Assess United States National Security, Space Management and Organization. (2017). Fas.org. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://fas.org/spp/military/commission/report.htm
Serbu, J. (2017). House panel votes to split Air Force, create new US Space Corps. FederalNewsRadio.com. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://federalnewsradio.com/defense-news/2017/06/house-panel-votes-to-split-air-force-create-new-u-s-space-corps/
Starship troopers: US to create ‘space corps’ in radical Air Force overhaul. (2017). RT International. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from https://www.rt.com/usa/394936-us-air-force-space-corps/
Stoullig, J. (2017). Rumsfeld Commission Warns Against "Space Pearl Harbor". Spacedaily.com. Retrieved 8 July 2017, from http://www.spacedaily.com/news/bmdo-01b.html
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