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MIT Technology Review

Mike Pence says Space Force will be established by 2020

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America’s vice president called on Congress to allocate $8 billion to fund the Space Force and space security systems over the next five years.

The news: Defense Secretary James Mattis and Pence spoke at the Pentagon today in advance of the release of the Defense Department’s Space Force implementation plan. Echoing President Donald Trump’s rhetoric from two months ago, Pence declared the group would be “separate from and equal to the five other branches” of the military.

Why? Pence cited China and Russia as potential threats to American satellites that warranted the creation of defense systems as a response. He said, “establishing the Space Force is an idea whose time has come."

The details: Pence outlined four major actions that would set things in motion:

·        The creation of a unified controlling body called the US Space Command by the end of this year that would have resources for defending American interests in space.

·        The formation of an elite group of war fighters called the Space Operations Force. It will pull people from across other areas of the military to “provide space expertise in times of crisis.”

·        The establishment of a Space Development Agency to quickly create new space defense technologies.

·        The establishment of clear lines of accountability while creating a new branch of the military by 2020. A civilian position, the assistant secretary of defense for space, will be created to bring Space Force into being.

The reality: You can get the visions of humans fighting in space right out of your head—what’s being proposed is an Earth-based group to protect American satellites. Ultimately, though, the decision to establish the Space Force will fall on the shoulders of Congress, which will have to approve the creation of a new branch of the military as well sign off on the funding.