The United States’ fascination with space is nothing new. From the great “space race” against the Soviet Union to the current billionaire space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, people have been intrigued, captivated, and curious about what the universe truly holds and what it could mean for our future.
There is still so much to learn about space, and there are still so many misconceptions that people hold tightly to. So it’s definitely a good thing to expand research and learn more about what can be found beyond our planet. Recently, though, that fascination with space crossed over into a new branch of the U.S. military: the Space Force.
Space Force was created under President Donald Trump’s administration to protect the country’s military space technology against foreign threats.
The concept hasn’t been welcomed with open arms by everyone. Some people argue that it’s a waste of government funding and other resources. Others tend to agree with President Trump and think it’s a necessity in this day and age.
Let’s learn a bit more about what Space Force really is, and what both sides are saying.
The Specifics of Space Force
Again, the Space Force was created as a new branch of the military. What many people don’t know is that space operations have been going on within the military for years. But they were usually monitored by the Air Force Space Command. Programs that were under the Space Command’s operation included the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, as well as several launch vehicles.
The purpose of the Space Force is to take over those operations and increase them. President Trump’s underlying reason for creating this new branch of the military was to preserve “American superiority in space,” proving that the space races haven’t gone away in government, they’ve only shifted in how they’re viewed.
Really, though, the push for more focus on space technology has a lot to do with cybersecurity and the looming danger of potential attacks. There are currently just over 1,000 U.S. satellites in orbit. They’re used for everything from monitoring environmental conditions to providing credit card authorization and automated banking services. Obviously, if any of the equipment the U.S. currently has in space is tampered with or destroyed, it could cause instant chaos to the country, including the potential for important data to be lost or stolen.
All of the Russian influence and meddling in the last Presidential election is a perfect example of what the Space Force would be keeping track of. As a country, we no longer just have to worry about physical attacks from foreign countries. We have to be prepared for digital ones as well. Cybersecurity is hugely important, which is why jobs for vulnerability experts, who are tasked with detecting and mitigating weaknesses in systems, could be crucial to this new military branch.
What Are the Benefits?
Those who support the Space Force see it as a crucial addition to the United States military. Yes, it will increase the budget needed for military spending, but that’s likely to bring in new military traditions that can have an impact on our society, just have other branches have in the past. Really, it’s a way of creating history, just like any new military innovation.
So what are the more technical and industrial benefits?
Space technology has become crucial, not only to our military but to society in general. It’s not a matter of somehow “weaponizing” outer space. It’s more of an organizational move to give more attention to space, instead of fragmenting different areas of space technology throughout different branches. Creating one branch allows the military to stay ahead of technology and create defenses from cybersecurity attacks.
The Space Force could also work with private companies to stay ahead of technological advances. For example, $480 million was recently given to Lockheed Martin to develop a hypersonic strike weapon that can go into space. Boeing is working on autonomous drones. Working with private companies can help Space Force to reach its full potential rather than covering it under another branch of the military. This new branch also brings increased job creation with it. The Space Force is also expected to hire about 15,000 personnel within the first five years.
One way to think about the importance of a Space Force is to pull out your phone. Now, turn it off. Go to the grocery store and try to buy something without allowing the cashier to use a scanner. Go to your bank to make a withdrawal without the use of a computer.
Unfortunately, there are dangers and threats from other countries when it comes to attacks that start in space. If our satellites were under attack, for example, those above examples could become a reality.
What Are the Drawbacks?
The arguments against the Space Force mostly suggest that it’s a waste of time, money, and resources. It’s estimated that it will cost about $2 billion to get off the ground (no pun intended!).
There’s no denying that there are specific groups or organizations within our country that are in desperate need of more funding. Because the Space Force is a military branch, some argue that the money used for its creation should have gone to support the 9 million-plus military veterans who are treated by the Veterans Health Administration each year. Or, to help more vets find jobs.
Others argue that instead of creating an entirely new branch of the military, more specific duties should have been given to the existing Space Command. As of 2019, the U.S. is the only country in the world with an independent Space Force. So the argument that it’s unnecessary isn’t invalid.
No matter where you side on the debate over Space Force, it’s interesting to think about the necessities of the future, and how our military is having to adapt due to advancements in technology. As that technology continues to grow and change, we’ll undoubtedly start to learn more about what the Space Force can do, not only for our country but for the entire planet.