Space Force was officially created as a new, sixth branch of the military in association with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020.
The new branch of the military is initially to be staffed using existing military groups, shifted to a new organizational structure. As of the 20th, the Air Force Space Command becomes the United States Space Force, and Air Force General John “Jay” Raymond becomes the new Chief of Space Operations.
Passage through the House, after the Space Force was originally opposed by Democrats, was cleared after the Republicans agreed to provide twelve weeks of paid time off for any federal worker after birth, adoption, or family health emergency.
Their initial duties will be devising comprehensive plans for Congress on their expected budget, training and organizational structure. Congressional approval for these submissions are required within 180 days.
Military leaders were strongly opposed to the creation of a space force when it was first proposed. Arguments were raised that all of the functions which would be performed by such a group were already done by groups within the Air Force, Navy, federal intelligence services and civilian operations. Also, concerns were raised that assigning an entire branch of the service specifically to space operations, no matter how small a branch that might be, would hasten the militarization of space.
Contrary to some suggestions, a space force will not violate the Outer Space Treaty, as it would not necessarily affect any of the key provisions regarding WMD in space or military operations taking place on celestial bodies. At issue are the provisions requiring space to be accessible to all countries for free and scientific investigation and for space exploration to be guided by principles of cooperation and mutual assistance.
China immediately spoke out against the Space Force in that regard, with their Foreign Ministry spokesman explaining to the Associated Press:
“The relevant U.S. actions are a serious violation of the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to outer space peace and security,”Geng Shuang
It is undeniable that some developed nations have been using satellites to monitor and guide terrestrial operations. By putting such actions into the spotlight a reasonable risk of heating up a military space race is kindled. This is being done at considerable cost to the U.S. taxpayer with no direct gain, as no new functions are being covered… this is merely an organizational shuffle. It does look flashy, though, and may inspire some voters to grow firm in their support behind the President if they imagine it is some sort of next step in space exploration or is funding combat astronauts.