United States President Donald Trump has signed Space Policy Directive-4, which orders the establishment of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the US Military.
Trump said that the creation of a Space Force is "imperative", as "the US [adapts] its national security organisations, policies, doctrine and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests".
A statement from the White House also accused "potential adversaries" of "advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict".
The Space Force would fall under the responsibility of the Air Force, and would be authorised to "organise, train, and equip military space forces of the United States to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces in peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict".
While Congress would still need to approve the creation of the new branch, the directive faces plenty of opposition, with concerns raised about the implications of weaponising space.
“President Trump has called space a new warfighting domain. Space is important to militaries, that’s true, but it is only a small piece of what happens up there. Eighty per cent of the nearly 2,000 satellites are civilian, providing critical communications and economic services for humanity’s wellbeing," said Dr Laura Grego, a senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program.
"We need to take care of space. If concentrating authority in a space force creates an incentive for nations to build space weapons that increase the likelihood of conflict, it would be a profoundly bad idea."
Trump has kept the ball rolling on his Space Force plan since first raising the possibility in March last year, and last month announced in an updated Missile Defence Review that the US would construct a space-based missile defence layer.
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