Most Americans are familiar with the five branches of the U.S. military: the Navy, the Army, the Marines, the Coast Guard, and the Air Force. All five of these military branches are dedicated to protecting American interests both at home and abroad. Some people, however, want to extend the military further: to space. This May, President Trump proposed a sixth branch to the U.S. military, called the Space Force. While presenting the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to the Army football team a few months ago, Trump commented off-handedly, “I’m just telling you for now… we are seriously considering a Space Force.” In March, he also brought up the idea for a space force, calling space a “warfighting domain”. Trump claims he has the fear that Russia and China may be surpassing our technological capabilities in space, which gives us reason to have a branch that is dedicated solely to establishing security in space.
In addition to urging the Pentagon to create an entirely new branch of the military to work in space, other measures have been taken by the US government to further militarize it, with President Trump claiming “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space”. In the past few months, there have been three major space policy initiatives, including new procedures to monitor the thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth and other space debris, one pushing for further man led missions to the moon and eventually Mars, and another to streamline federal bureaucracy concerning space policy as well as make commercial space activity much easier.
The proposal for this new Space Force, and strengthened U.S. presence in space, has been praised by many who believe it to be a continuation of the American spirit of exploration and discovery, as well as those who believe it be a military necessity. Many military operations occur in space, like satellite-based intelligence, secure communications, weapons command and control, and weather forecasting. Reducing the red tape surrounding commercial space ventures could also lead the way for privately funded space launches, landings, and space tourism, creating a new industry and boosting the economy. Finally, encouraging and funding missions to the moon and other planets will move many industries towards a decades-long goal for most Americans. However, these new measures to militarize, privatize, and encourage space travel have been very controversial. During a presidency of division and turmoil, most Democrats are starkly against Republican-funded proposals; space travel requires years of study, research, and construction. If a controversial Republican bill is passed this year, years from now non supporting Democrats will work to negate it, and all efforts with bee canceled before they are even close to being finished. The support for extensive space travel needs to be bipartisan and motivated solely by a desire to explore and discover.
The largest problem I personally find with this so-called Space Force is exactly that: its motivations are the same motivations America has always had. Greed and conquest under the guise of exploration. In the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the United States, the Soviet Union, the UK, and many other countries agreed to prohibit nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction, to open al space construction to foreign representatives (and vice versa), and to follow international law in space. If the United States begins to militarize space in an offensive matter, due to the size and influence of our country no other will ever stand a chance against our power and superiority. Outer space would only exponentially increase its militarization and privatization, as all other nations followed in our footsteps, both because we set a precedent, and out of fear. In effect, a new arms race, a space race, would occur. This absolutely terrifies me. Sometimes it feels as though the Earth has been entirely corrupted, to the point of no return, by the worst parts of humanity: greed, war, and selfishness. Raised on science fiction, with shows like Star Trek, I’ve always thought that maybe space would be the thing to unite us. That only if we were really faced with something larger than all of us could we find common ground – and realize our current problems were trivial.
Humanity has always been dedicated to expanding horizons, of breaking boundaries, of exploring new frontiers. Space has always been the final one In Ronald Reagan’s words, space is a place for pioneers. Exploring space has always been about pushing boundaries of knowledge and ability- for all human beings. For me, space has always represented a world, a universe, that is greater than us. A world more pure, untarnished, by humanity’s festering cruelty, and instead a place for us to grow our more positive traits, like peace, education, curiosity- to find a more meaningful purpose outside of the war, greed, and selfishness that has plagued our societies on Earth. President Trump’s Space Force, if successful, would threaten that future of peace. Instead, as such a powerful and influential nation, the United States should continue its 1967 dedication to space that is open and peaceful for all people.