SPACE FORCE: THE DAWNING OF A NEW ERA

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Submitted Date 01/12/2019
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Americans have historically had a strong fascination with space. From the fictional worlds of Star Trek to our very real participation in the space race, America has long pioneered that final frontier. But in recent decades, there has been talk of some change in the way the U.S. government handles its space programs. In the spring of 2018, this culminated in an exciting development: the planned formation of the United States Space Force.

 

The Space Force is an idea that has been discussed before, but little has been done to implement it until very recently. The idea is simple: create a new branch of the U.S. military dedicated solely to dealing with outer space. The military is already involved in space missions, but these missions are decentralized across several existing branches. The vast majority of space funding goes to the Air Force, but several other agencies have assests related to space as well. Proponents of the Space Force claim that creating a separate agency will allow for more efficient funding and increased opportunities for advancement of space personnel. It will also allegedly reduce internal conflict between existing branches over limited resources. Basically, having only one branch of the military in control of space missions will eliminate confusion and increase efficiency.

 

You may be saying, “What about NASA?” NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, handles the civilian space program in America. Their mission is scientific, gathering data from distant planets and designing new space technology. This leaves plenty of room for the Space Force, namely in the areas of engineering and the gathering of intelligence.

 

A well-funded Space Force could clear out space junk and build new space stations. It could also defend the huge satellite network that keeps cell phones and the internet running (space is a more dangerous place than you might think). New technological advancements could make things like space mining a reality, bringing not just wealth but a whole new industry with it. Not to mention establishing safe space transportation—imagine getting on a rocket the same way you board an airplane. In fact, in June 2018 President Donald Trump signed a new policy directive, SPD-3, that aims to more efficiently manage space traffic.

 

The formation of a new branch of the U.S. military is a significant historical event, and no small matter. The last time it happened was in 1947 with the formation of the Air Force. There are those who oppose the idea of the Space Force, rightly claiming that it will be a colossal and difficult task. Many in the Air Force would prefer to continue handling space projects themselves. And while it’s true that the Air Force is already very well equipped to handle such things, it’s hard to argue that an independent branch would be less effective than our current system (provided that it’s not under-funded or mismanaged).

 

Regardless of controversy, the current administration seems dead-set on advancing the reach of the United States into the heavens. Two reports on the viability of an independent Space Force have already been conducted, and a plan is currently in place to establish the new branch by 2020. Funds have already been allocated in the 2019 budget to re-establish the U.S. Space Command, which was essentially an early attempt at coordinating space operations between existing branches. With things progressing at this rate, the Space Force is likely to be a reality in just a matter of years.

 

The human fascination with space goes back as far as our historical records. Man has always dreamt of what may lie beyond our world. Since the 1960’s the whole world has been united in a desire to explore further, build ever more fantastic machines, and make our mark on distant planets. The creation of the Space Force may well be one of the defining moments of our generation. No one knows what the future holds—but right now, it’s looking pretty bright.

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