President Donald Trump announced on Friday, December 20, that the United States officially launched a new military branch, Space Force, focused on obtaining power for defense in space. It will have a small staff and a budget of $40 million and be part of the Air Force Department, just like the Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department.
In the beginning, they plan to employ 200 military and civilian personnel. Ultimately over 15,000 Air Force employees are expected to be part of the Space Force to defend the country against potential threats like spy satellites, missile or meteor strikes from space (even in case of an extraterrestrial invasion).
The Air Force's mission statement is to: "organize, train, and equip space forces in order to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force. Its responsibilities include developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, maturing the military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces to present to the Combatant Commands."
They will train military and collaborate with space professionals to defend the country, as well as conduct space operations like developing and launching satellites with sensors to detect threats.
It is the first new U.S military service to be created in more than 70 years, following the separation of the Air Force from the Army in 1947.
Together with our joint teammates & our spacefaring allies & partners, we will establish a service that meets the highest standards of excellence, built on a foundation of integrity & service! @SpaceForceDoD pic.twitter.com/yklKvvdUQh— Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (@SecAFOfficial) December 21, 2019
The CEO of the rocket company SpaceX, Elon Musk, showed support for Space Force since the beginning. In a tweet in September this year, Musk wrote he supports Space Force because he felt the US needed to "make Starfleet real."
Definitely for Space Force. We need to make Starfleet real.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2019
Last Friday as the new branch of the military was signed into existence, Musk welcomed Space Force with the Star-Trek reference, "Starfleet begins" he wrote via Twitter.
@SpaceForceDoD Starfleet begins— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 21, 2019
He has liked the idea since 2018. During an interview in 2018, Musk was asked what he thought about President Trump's idea of starting a space defense, he said:
"I think it’s cool. You know, like, when the Air Force was formed, there was a lot of like pooh-poohing, and like, ‘Oh, how silly to have an Air Force!’ You know, because the aircraft in World War II were managed by the Army. [...] It became pretty obvious that you really needed a specialised division to manage aircraft. And so the Air Force was created. And people today may not realize back then it was wildly panned as a ridiculous thing to create the Air Force, but now everyone’s like, ‘Obviously you should have an Air Force.’ And I think it’s gonna become obvious that we should have a Space Force, too."
SpaceX has several contracts with the government involving NASA, to develop spacecraft to launch astronauts to the International Space Station next year. They are also working with the United States Air Force and actively testing SpaceX's latest technology, involving Starlink internet satellites in the cockpit of military planes. Read more: U.S. Air Force is already testing SpaceX Starlink internet on military planes