Space Policy
October 19, 2018
Can the United States maintain its leadership?

The Trump administration has announced plans to establish a new military branch, the Space Force, in an effort to preserve U.S. dominance in space. The creation of a separate space branch would pose a challenge for the United States’ two main military space rivals — Russia and China. The United States and Russia continue to collaborate on space exploration and the International Space Station. President Trump and NASA have set their sights on sending humans to the moon and Mars, potentially funded in part by money currently allocated for the space station. Meanwhile, private companies headed by technology entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been making bold plans for commercial space travel, colonization and tourism.

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, front, and NASA astronaut Nick Hague arrive at a Russian airfield in mid-October after the launch failure of their Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian craft was attempting to reach the International Space Station when problems arose with a booster rocket. (Getty Images/TASS)   Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, front, and NASA astronaut Nick Hague arrive at a Russian airfield in mid-October after the launch failure of their Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian craft was attempting to reach the International Space Station when problems arose with a booster rocket. (Getty Images/TASS)

President Trump announced his intention to create a Space Force in June, the first new U.S. military branch since 1947, and Vice President Mike Pence described the plan’s details in August.

The initial step involves creating a U.S. Space Command by the end of 2018. The proposal to create a unified combatant command would bring space experts working in other military branches into one command and create a separate acquisitions office to purchase satellites and develop military technology for deployment in space. 1

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