The first steps are being taken to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the American armed forces. The ultimate objective,” said Vice President Mike Pence in a recent speech at the Pentagon, “is to create a new branch of our military that is separate from, and equal to, the five other branches.”
For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind, and disable U.S. navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground.
But recently, these adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself. In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites — a demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space.
Russia has been designing an airborne laser to disrupt our space-based systems. And it claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid-flight to destroy American satellites.
Both China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites.
China and Russia are also aggressively working to incorporate anti-satellite attacks into their warfighting doctrines.
“As their actions make clear, our adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain already,” declared Vice President Pence.
“America will always seek peace in space as on the Earth. But history proves that peace only comes through strength. And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength in the years ahead. Not all [nations] share our commitment to freedom, to private property, and the rule of law. So as we continue to carry American leadership in space, so also will we carry America’s commitment to freedom into this new frontier.”As in other domains, the United States will continue to work with allies and partners in space to enhance the safety, security, and sustainability of outer space for all countries.