NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed his full support for President Donald Trump’s proposed military “Space Force”, Bloomberg reported. However, Bridenstine added that the “Space Force” will have a role separate from NASA.
“We want to be an agency that maintains its independence from those capabilities,” Bridenstine said, referring to defense and national security. The NASA official was touring the Michoud Assembly Center, where workers are putting together major parts of systems that are planned to return Americans to the moon and, eventually, take them to Mars.
Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman, was nominated by Trump to head NASA last year and confirmed by the Senate in April. He was among the officials with Trump in June when he called for creation of a new military branch known as the Space Force.
According to Trump, the new branch is needed because the nation’s space assets, including satellite technology and global positioning systems, are vital to numerous interests and industries, including communications, navigation, food and energy production, banking and climate.
The Space Force plan requires congressional approval, as military leaders and experts have questioned the wisdom of launching an expensive, bureaucratic new service branch. SpaceNews also adds that there are no estimates yet for what it will cost to stand up a Space Force as a separate military service.
Proponents of the Space Force have argued that if portions of the Air Force or the intelligence community are carved out to form a new service that there should be no significant added costs. But that would be a fantasy, said General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Somehow there is a misconception out there that “this is going to be absolutely resource neutral,” he said on Friday at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.
“I think we have to be wide-eyed about the kind of resources” that would be needed to support a sixth branch of the military. “Standing up an organization is generally not resource neutral,” he said.
The President wants to do this, and “we’re going to try to make it happen. It does require significant work with Congress to stand up a force. And we’re going to have to identify the resources,” Selva stressed.
According to the general, there are substantial costs associated with the support of a new service, a civilian secretary and military chief of staff. “If you’re going to have a secretary who is responsible to organize, train and equip,” that comes with a potentially huge price tag that should not be underestimated.
There are roughly 18,000 service members and government civilians involved in space, plus tens of thousands of contractors. Several thousand people in the intelligence community also support national security space missions, SpaceNews noted.