Trump directs Pentagon to form a Space Force military branch

President Trump Orders Creation of 'Space Force'

President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" as an independent military service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space - though he may have limited power to develop a new military command.

Trump stressed the new Space Force would be "separate but equal" from the Air Force, which now deals with military issues outside of the earth's atmosphere while NASA is in charge of civilian projects.

There are military officials - particularly from the Air Force, who is now in charge of military operations in space - who have expressed reservations about the idea of creating a new branch. But US President Donald Trump has plans to change that.

Trump instructed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to establish the new branch.

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and a leading voice on space issues in Congress, wrote in a tweet shortly after the president's comment that "now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart".

He insisted: "When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space".

Trump claimed that the plan will ensure that America, which plans a return to the moon and a mission to Mars, stays ahead of China and Russian Federation in any new space race.

ABC News and CNN contributed to this web report.

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While approval by Congress is "not a foregone conclusion by any means", Harrison said the odds of a Space Force are higher since the president has directed it. And plans to clean up Earth's orbit to make it safe for US Space Force personnel patrolling the heavens.

The president then signed Space Directive 3, or SD-3, which directs the National Space Council to create space traffic management infrastructure.

In his statement, Trump said: "This is a giant step toward inspiring future generations and toward reclaiming America's proud destiny in space..." The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want "China and Russian Federation and other countries leading us".

Also on Monday, Cheryl Warner, a spokeswoman for Nasa's Human Exploration Directorate, said that the U.S. plans to send robotic explorers to the moon as soon as next year as a preparatory step towards sending astronauts back there for the first time since 1972.

For the private sector's space activity, the primary effect of the policy is "more rapid and more accurate information on where they can launch", as well as "flexibility in launch windows", and satellites having "more time to put toward revenue-generating activities rather than maneuvering" to avoid collision risks, Pace said.

Trump also declared that "there's no place like space".

In December, Trump signed a directive that he said would enable astronauts to return to the moon and eventually lead a mission to Mars. "We understand the President's guidance". He ordered the government to review the regulation of commercial spaceflight. "As long as it's an American rich person, that's good, OK?"

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