19 June 2018Hot off the Press
US President Donald Trump ordered the creation of a US “Space Force” on Monday (local time), saying America must have “dominance in space”.
“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Mr Trump said before a meeting of his National Space Council.
The President says the Space Force, which will be the sixth branch of the US military, will counter advancements by other world powers, and establish the US as the leader in the new space race.
“We are going to have the Air Force and we’re going to have the ‘Space Force’. Separate but equal. It is going to be something. So important,” he said.
However, the US is a signee of the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits weapons of mass destruction being stationed in space, and only allows the moon and other celestial bodies to be used for peaceful purposes.
President Trump also signed a directive on the management of traffic and debris in space.
The announcements come as the latest effort by the Trump Administration to bolster the United States’ position in space exploration.
A NASA official said on Monday that the agency is hoping to send robotic explorers to the moon as soon as next year, as a preparatory step toward future manned space missions.
NASA has also said it plans to work with the private sector on future missions, but has not revealed any companies it is considering.
Last month, President Trump ordered a review of regulations regarding commercial space flights, and last December, signed a directive aimed at enabling astronauts to return to the moon and eventually lead a mission to Mars.