US President Donald Trump on June 18, 2018 ordered the US Defense Department and the Pentagon to create a "Space Force", an independent sixth branch of the armed forces.
The Space Force military branch would be "separate but equal" to the Air Force. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would oversee the creation of the force.
The announcement regarding the creation of the Space Force was made at a meeting of the National Space Council. Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the recently revived space council as well as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Other initiatives announced by President Trump
• During the meeting, President Trump also signed a new space policy directive aimed at reducing debris in Earth's orbit. The policy sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, as well as tracking the growing amount of clutter in space.
• The president also reasserted plans to land astronauts on the moon again and do another human lunar landing within 10 years; and eventually on Mars.
Why was the proposal regarding creation of ‘Space Force’ was rejected earlier?
• The idea of creation of the Space Force was floated by Trump months ago and was proposed in 2017 by US Representatives Mike D. Rogers and Jim Cooper.
• At that time, this military branch was proposed as a separate branch of service with its own four-star general serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
• Under their plan, the branch would have reported to the Department of the Air Force.
• However, the proposal was scrapped following resistance from senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein.
• Some of the officials were worried that the Space Force would duplicate existing efforts as the Air Force already maintains a Space Command.
Outer Space Treaty
• In 1967, the United States had signed the Outer Space Treaty that bars states from testing weapons and establishing military bases on the moon and other celestial bodies.
• The treaty prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth.
• However, the treaty has no enforcement mechanism.