President Donald Trump on Friday celebrated the launch of Space Force, the first new military service in more than 70 years, The Associated Press reported.
In signing the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that includes Space Force, Trump claimed a victory for one of his top national security priorities just two days after being impeached by the House.
It is part of a $1.4 trillion government spending package, including the Pentagon’s budget, that provides a steady stream of financing for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border fence and reverses unpopular and unworkable automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs.
“Space is the world’s new war-fighting domain,” Trump said Friday during a signing ceremony at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington. “Among grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, and very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot.”
Later Friday, as he flew to his Florida resort aboard Air Force One, Trump signed legislation that will keep the entire government funded through Sept. 30.
Space Force has been a reliable applause line at Trump’s political rallies, but for the military it’s seen more soberly as an affirmation of the need to more effectively organize for the defense of U.S. interests in space — especially satellites used for navigation and communication. Space Force is not designed or intended to put combat troops in space.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Friday, “Our reliance on space-based capabilities has grown dramatically, and today outer space has evolved into a warfighting domain of its own.” Maintaining dominance in space, he said, will now be Space Force’s mission.
Space has become increasingly important to the U.S. economy and to everyday life. The Global Positioning System, for example, provides navigation services to the military as well as civilians. Its constellation of about two dozen orbiting satellites is operated by the 50th Space Wing from an operations center at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.