Meeting with the National Space Council at the White House on Monday, Donald Trump declared that the U.S. would create a ‘Space Force,’ which he described by comparing it to the Air Force while using the phrase “separate but equal.” The President promised that the new branch would manage space traffic, promote the United States’ commercial interests, and work to protect the planet from space trash.
The news release from the White House lays out a plan for U.S. space policy going forward. It includes protecting the nation’s control over ‘assets’ of space, including U.S. control over commercial access, and a series of plans to document debris that could pose a danger to Earth.
However, reports from the event itself demonstrate again the president’s propensity for going off-script and offering incomprehensible one-liners. Politico‘s coverage of the event includes Trump:
- Ordering the Pentagon to create a Space Force (A term that doesn’t actually appear in the White House press release)
- Calling the Space Force and Air Force “separate but equal.”
- Demanding not only “American presence” but “American dominance” in space.
Trump also hijacked the event to again repeat false claims that the policy of immigrant kids being separated from their parents at the border is a law Democrats put into place and to warn that the policy won’t end until Dems get on board with his anti-immigration policies. He called the procedures being employed by his administration “terrible laws” and “so sad,” promising it could end “very quickly” if Democrats would support an immigration bill under his terms.
As for the Space Force, Florida Senator Bill Nelson says that generals have told him it’s not needed or wanted. He also reassured the public that it can’t happen without the support of Congress, despite Trump’s grandiose claims.
The president told a US general to create a new Space Force as 6th branch of military today, which generals tell me they don’t want. Thankfully the president can’t do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart. Too many important missions at stake. https://t.co/uYzqg1W8nE
— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) June 18, 2018
According to Space, Trump also suggested that perhaps the private sector would manage the first trip to Mars before NASA.