In creating the “space force” that President Trump wants, one of the first steps should be to make an agency that buys cutting-edge space technology for all branches of the U.S. military, the National Space Council said Tuesday.
Creating a new branch of the military would be subject to Congress’ approval, but the council, led by Vice President Mike Pence, is recommending that the nation build a space force and structures that would usher it into existence.
The blueprint it outlined Tuesday also calls for review of each military branch’s space-related responsibilities, development of a Defense Department organization to oversee space operations, and collaboration with Congress and U.S. intelligence agencies.
The recommendations were sent to Trump for consideration.
This summer, Trump directed the Defense Department to begin the process of establishing a space-focused military service that would be a counterpart to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The White House has said it will release plans for the space force early next year.
On Tuesday, Pence described the proposed space force as the “next and natural evolution of our armed forces,” arguing that U.S. adversaries such as China and Russia are developing new technologies, such as hypersonic missiles, that make space a place where wars can be fought.
Pence said the Trump administration was already working closely with congressional leaders on “both sides of the Capitol building” to include funding for the space force in next year’s defense budget. The new military branch could be established as soon as 2020.
“Today, space is fundamentally different than it was a generation ago,” Pence said during Tuesday’s meeting at the National Defense University in Washington. “It is the cost of inaction that we can’t afford.”
But congressional support of the space force proposal is not certain, and Pentagon officials have said standing up a new military service could cost billions of dollars.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the council also provided updates on past initiatives. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said her department is looking at streamlining commercial space regulations, including launch licensing that currently needs to be obtained through several agencies.